Viet Nam

Viet Nam: Central villagers fear losing homes to floods

Recent floods have isolated hundreds of families in Binh Dinh Province's Phu Cat and Tuy Phuoc districts and destroyed homes and property.

Every year in November the flood season in Vietnam's central region fills residents with fear of hunger and homelessness.

One local Cao Thi Thu Thao was forced to stay at a neighbor's house with her five-month-old baby when her house collapsed into the Kon River a week ago.

Her fisherman husband Vo Trong An only earns VND20,000 (US$1.18) a day ruling out any chance of owning another house soon.

Nguyen Thi Huong, 75, in Phuoc Son Commune, Tuy Phuoc District lost the house she had been living in by herself for several years. Huong collected her rice seed by seed after her rice barrel broke open in the rising waters.

The floods wrecked 43 houses in Phuoc Son Commune and 42 houses in Phuoc Hoa Commune in the district, the head commune officials said.

Most of those families are poor and "unable to rebuild their houses," said Ton Ky Hai of Phuoc Son Commune.

Hai said the commune could only offer some food and temporary refuge for victims and is asking the province and state authorities to help.

Around 600 families in Phuoc Hoa Commune are threatened by floods every rainy season, according to the commune head Nguyen Ngoc Xuan.

The damage bill from the recent floods in Binh Dinh Province came to at least VND48 billion ($2.84 million).

One hundred and twenty private houses were destroyed, prompting authorities to ask for VND18 billion ($1.06 million) support from the state budget.

In the meantime, many in Tuy Phuoc District work by transporting people around on boats despite the dangerous currents.

Le Van Ngot of Phuoc Nghia Commune said he transported workers, students and sellers, charging VND5,000 (30 cents) a person and VND5,000 a motorbike.

He earns VND200,000 ($11.80) a day but rowing in the cold makes him "too tired to eat" at the end of the day, Ngot said.

Most boat owners including Ngot don't carry lifebuoys and there have been some tragic accidents over the years.

"I just work for a few days. It's not permanent so I don't need to buy lifebuoys," Nguyen Van Tam said.

Others said it was the authority's responsibility to buy lifebuoys not theirs.

Rising sea

In Quang Nam Province, more than 100 families along the coast in Duy Hai Commune, Duy Xuyen District have been watching with trepidation as the sea moves closer to their homes.

Cua Dai Sea has encroached 50 meters into the mainland since Friday's heavy rains.

Commune head Vo Van Toan said the problem had worsened every year since the 2006 floods.

Local man Nguyen Tan Truc, lives only 20 meters from the water edge. He said can't sleep at night and wakes up every time he feels big waves. "It's so frightening!"

Truc said he needs to move but has "no money."

There are 18 families in the commune who have been offered safer places but they couldn't afford new houses, the commune head said.

Truc's neighbor Bui Van Minh said he had no idea what he would do if the sea took his home.

The National Center for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting Sunday said heavy rains today will raise river levels from Quang Binh to Quang Tri provinces and from Khanh Hoa to Phu Yen provinces.

Provinces from Quang Binh to Phu Yen should be prepared for more floods and landslides, according to the center.

Thanh Nien - Phuong Hoa.