Republic of Korea

Rep. of Korea: Flood victims are dreading winter in container homes

by Hong Chang-eop, Hong Gweon-sam

Kim Tae-soon's eyes filled with tears Monday as she said, "I might be able to stand my six family members sleeping together in a shipping container. But I don't think we can take the cold winter without hot water."

Many victims of the August floods, like the 73-year-old Ms. Kim, who lives in Gangneung, Gangwon province, will have to spend the winter in temporary container shelters because of delays in rebuilding or repairing their homes.

Although local governments planned to finish restoration work by December, problems like a lack of money and delays in finding suitable building space are holding up the work.

Both the homeowners, most of whom have to cover about 60 percent of the rebuilding costs, and the government, which is supposed to provide the rest, are having trouble coming up with the money.

Only about one-third of the more than 4,000 houses that need to be repaired are scheduled for reconstruction by the end of the year.

Among the 215 households that suffered from flooding in North Chungcheong province, 290 people in 118 households are living in shipping containers. Kim Jin-seon lives in a container in Yeongdong, North Chungcheong province, with six other family members, including his son's family. Mr. Kim said the hardship of living together in the shipping container has brought the family to the brink of splitting up.

In North Gyeongsang province, 148 households are living in the temporary container homes. Thirty-eight homes are scheduled for reconstruction soon; the others will have to wait for improvements in roads and other infrastructure.

Seoul and most local governments estimate that the restoration work in the east coast areas hardest hit by Typhoon Rusa will take at least another year to complete.

As usual the hardships are things taken for granted. "I just wish I had hot water and a place to do laundry," said Lee Oe-sul, 47, of Kimcheon, North Gyeongsang province.

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