VIETNAM The worst typhoon in decades

 Emergency Response
 30th Sep 2009

By Peter Newsum, Country Director, CARE Vietnam

Typhoon Ketsana, which caused such horrific damages in the Philippines, has now hit Vietnam. It is officially the worst typhoon that some areas of Vietnam has seen in decades.

As it slammed through the small island nation of the Philippines, we in Vietnam braced for what we knew would soon hit our coastlines.

Now it has hit and for the moment we are preparing for the very worst.

There are many different things rushing through my mind; most of it is hope for the people who have been affected and largely I’m hoping for very few casualties and little suffering, however I realise that reality might be different.

I know the Vietnamese government has done a tremendous job preparing for the storm. They’ve been tracking the storm for several days, evacuating people from high-risk areas, closing schools and taking necessary precautions to keep casualties as low as possible.

But we also have to be realistic. Typhoon Ketsana’s strength was overwhelming, bringing storms and rains. The storms created devastation and the rains caused significant flooding. So now, we are banding together and mounting an effort to ensure a rapid and effective emergency response.

As always, getting information in these initial stages of a disaster is very difficult. Phone lines are down, roads are flooded and communication channels are blocked. In the face of these many challenges we’re doing our best to pull together a quick response.

In the meantime, while we cannot tell the scale of what we are about to face, we are getting ready to help those in need as best we can. We have arranged to purchase supplies and staff are deploying to go into the disaster zone, all while receiving new information and updating our teams.

Although we are yet to realise the full extent of the damage Ketsana has caused and the potential catastrophe that awaits us, we know from experience what the immediate needs of people and their communities will be and as we gain momentum for the response.

Clean water, food, emergency supplies, water containers, clothes, and kitchen utensils to name just a few are our greatest priority.

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