Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop offers food to flood victims in Trung Quan parish in Quan Binh province on Oct. 10. (Photo courtesy of giaophanhatinh.net)
Two dioceses in central Vietnam hit by some of the worst floods in the country’s history are struggling to provide emergency aid for hundreds of thousands of victims, church officials said.
The devastating floods caused by heavy rain that began two weeks ago and made worse by Tropical Storm Nangka last week have reportedly killed 102 people.
Among the dead were 22 soldiers buried by landslides that struck while they slept in their barracks in Quang Tri province on Oct. 18.
Another 26 people have been reported missing and 240,000 households affected, with the flooding having inundated 212 villages, damaged 107,000 hectares of farmlands, and killed 531,000 cattle and poultry in several provinces.
Hue Archdiocese spokesman, Father Joseph Nguyen Van Vien, said churches and other facilities in dozens of local parishes were sheltering people whose houses were inundated by the storm.
He said Catholic volunteers were using boats to distribute food and drinking water to victims or evacuate others forced onto the roof of their homes to avoid rising floodwater.
The archdiocese serves Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri provinces, two of the worst-hit by the floods.
Daughters of Our Lady of the Visitation nun, Sister Catherine Nguyen Thi Ngoi, who heads the congregation’s aid efforts, said they were sheltering 100 people brought by boat from the villages of Huong Vinh and Quang Thanh at their daycare center.
“We are offering them accommodation, food, and drinking water,” the nun said.
Father Batholomew Hoang Quang Hung, Kim Doi parish priest in Hue city, said he and other Catholics used boats to distribute food to 150 stranded families.
Father Hung said people still cut off by the floodwater measuring one meter high in some places were now going hungry.
Sister Mary Nguyen Thu Hien said nuns were providing food and bottled water for thousands of elderly people, women, children, people with HIV/Aids and physical disabilities from A Luoi, Huong Tra, Phong Dien and Hai Lang districts.
Many survivors said they saw much of their belongings washed away by the floods.
Meanwhile. Father John Baptist Nguyen Huy Tuan, director of Caritas in Ha Tinh Diocese, said thousands of people were affected and that at about 9,750 households were suffering from a lack of food.
Despite Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc setting aside 500 billion dong (US$21.7 million) and 5,000 tonnes of rice in aid. he issued an appeal on Oct. 19, for people to provide urgent help to victims.
Ha Tinh Diocese covers two provinces of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh, which were also badly hit by the floods.
He said Caritas needs at least $108,000 to buy rice, instant noodles, fish sauce, salt, clean water and medicine.
Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Ha Tinh became actively involved in aid efforts, distributing food to flood victims.
The National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said the area can expect more heavy rain from another tropical storm this weekend.