Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Ha Tinh (left) and Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue travel by boat to visit Trung Quan Parish on Oct. 21. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhue.net)
Church leaders in Vietnam’s central dioceses lashed by powerful tropical storms and severe floods have called on people to help hapless victims restore their lives.
Massive landslides, high winds and devastating flooding set off on Oct. 28 by Typhoon Molave, the strongest storm to hit the country’s 10 provinces in the last two decades, killed 23 people, left another 47 missing and injured 45 others from 11 central provinces, according to reports from Vietnam Disaster Management Authority on Oct. 29.
The authority reported that 100,000 houses and 200 public facilities were collapsed or damaged and 5,500 hectares of crops were destroyed.
Even before the arrival of Molave, the fourth storm to hit the area in October alone, local people had suffered severe floods and landfalls.
Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Ha Tinh, one of the three worst-hit dioceses, praised people around the globe and local parishes for providing humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of victims regardless of their backgrounds since deadly floods swept their area on Oct. 6.
Bishop Hop, 75, said emergency relief supplies are necessary but other kinds of aid and sustainable development solutions are also essential for victims to restore their livelihoods soon and avoid natural disasters in the future.
The prelate asked those parishes not affected by floods to hold fundraising events on the Feast of All Saints on Nov. 1. “The diocese will use the funds to bring victims back to normal life,” he said.
He called on Catholics “to extend their relief aid to all victims regardless of their faiths because they are our brothers and sisters and God’s children.”
Ha Tinh Diocese, the country's youngest diocese, was established in 2018 and covers the provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh.
The Dominican bishop urged Catholics to study and practice Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ so that “we know how to respect, safeguard and care for the environment, our Mother Earth, because only when we do so can we live in harmony and peace with all Creation.”
Bishop Hop blamed massive deforestation, construction of hydropower dams and reservoirs on riverheads and irresponsible discharge of water from dams for the flooding.
He asked people to pray for flood victims to overcome the hard time and plead with God to bless their benefactors.
On Oct. 28, Father John Baptist Nguyen Huy Tuan, head of Caritas in the diocese, said victims need money to cover their medical treatment, build and repair houses, and buy seedlings, breeding stock and tools for their livelihood.
“Our first priority is to offer free medical check-ups and treatment to people from 39 parishes hit by the floods because they had to steep themselves in floodwater polluted by garbage and dead animals for days,” Father Tuan said.
The priest said Caritas workers will embark on a healthcare program on Oct. 31 and need an estimated 1,170,000,000 dong (US$50,000).
He called on all people to make generous donations to the program, which healthcare workers are also invited to join.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue called on people to support other in dealing with the consequences of the devastating floods. They had all their crops and properties washed away in floodwater so have no money to erect shelters, cultivate crops, restore livelihoods and cover their children’s school fees.
Archbishop Linh said he had set up six groups of aid workers to assess victims’ needs and deliver humanitarian aid properly and fairly.
Brother Joseph Le Van Phuong, provincial superior of La Salle Brothers in Vietnam, said his group gave gifts to 200 households from Ba Long Commune in Quang Tri province on Oct. 29.
They had to travel by boat to villages cut off by floodwater for three weeks. Local people lost all their belongings in the floods.
Brother Phuong said his group offered gifts and money to some 1,000 people in the provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue. They also gave Caritas in Hue and the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang 100 million dong and 50 million dong respectively.