Severe weather

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 25 April 2008



(2008), "Severe weather", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 17 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Severe weather

Article Type: Disaster database From: Disaster Prevention and Management, Volume 17, Issue 2.

26 June 2006 China

Flash floods from heavy rains killed 18 people in the central Chinese province of Hunan over the weekend (June 24-25), with another 18 people missing, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said today. Eleven people died in the city of Shaoyang, the second consecutive year the city has been hit by floods, the ministry said in a statement. Earlier this month, state media reported that floods had killed over 50 people in south-western Guizhou province. Since late May, heavy rains in the southern provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi and Jiangxi have killed about 100 people in floods, landslides and collapsing houses and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands.

29 June 2006

A tornado ripped through a village school in eastern China today, killing at least two students and injuring dozens, state media said, as heavy rainfall caused fresh casualties in the south-west. The pupils were about to take an end of term exam at the Zhupeng elementary school in Si County in Anhui Province when the tornado hit in the early morning, Xinhua news agency said. “Two students were killed and 46 more were injured, including four in critical condition,” Xinhua said. Earlier reports had put the death toll at three. All elementary and middle schools in Si County have been ordered to suspend classes for safety checks, state radio said, adding the children were crushed by collapsing walls. Eleven middle school students in Anhui’s Lingbi county died last July when a tornado collapsed their classroom’s roof. Separately, heavy rains since yesterday have killed seven people and left one missing in Gulin County in the south-western province of Sichuan, Xinhua said, quoting the local government. “The rainstorm has spoiled 20,000 hectares of farmland and destroyed 190 houses,” it said. Landslides triggered by strong rainfall also claimed two lives in Daguan County in the neighbouring Yunnan Province, Xinhua said. Another five were missing and the chance for their survival was slim.

30 June 2006

The death toll in flash floods last weekend in central China has risen to 21, with another six people missing, the official Xinhua News Agency said today. The floods swept through Lonhui county in Hunan province on Sunday (June 24) after some 10 inches of rain fell. Some 11 villagers were still hospitalized, Xinhua said. While the months of June through August mark the annual rainy season that sets off floods and landslides in China, storms this year arrived unusually early. Almost 200 people have been killed and more than a million have been forced from their homes since late May.

2 July 2006

At least 14 people were killed, two others missing and over one million affected after incessant rains hit southwest China’s Sichuan province. The rainstorms hit the cities of Luzhou, Bazhong, Dazhou, Liangshan and Panzhihua in the central and southern parts of the province from Wednesday (June 28) until yesterday. The rainstorms brought about mountain torrents and mud-and-rock flows, affecting more than one million people and damaging over 1,500 houses. At least 14 people have been killed and two others missing. The Governments in the disaster-hit areas have already sent teams to guide rescue work. The Sichuan provincial Government urged the Governments of all levels to spare no efforts to control the flood and undertake the relief efforts, Xinhua news agency reported. The water resources department of the province allocated $1.4 million in repairing and fortifying the dams and has prepared the disaster relief materials worth about $2.9 million in case of emergency.

4 July 2006

Torrential rains in China are continuing to flood various provinces in central and eastern China as the country braces for more summer rainstorms during the week. The rain has triggered flooding and landslides since last week which have left at least 45 people dead and up to nine missing, state media reported. It has also caused damage to parts of a railway in China’s eastern Shandong province. Workers are working to repair the damage and resume train services in the area. Millions of people are in need of relocation as their homes have been destroyed by heavy rain. Altogether, at least 349 people died in weather-related disasters in June, while 99 others were still missing, Xinhua news agency quoted the China Meteorological Administration as saying. The administration estimated economic losses at $2.53 billion from the disasters, the most serious of which were rainstorms which caused floods, landslides and mud-rock slides in a dozen provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in southern China.

6 July 2006

Storms and torrential rain have battered eastern China, leaving 13 million people affected by flooding and storm damage, state media said. At least 30 people have died as a result of the severe weather in the two provinces of Jiangsu and Anhui, and some 40,000 people have been evacuated. Residents have been using rafts to move through flooded streets, reports said. Earlier this week, the government said at least 349 people died in disasters caused by the weather in June. Another 99 people were missing and the cost of the flooding was estimated at 20 billion yuan ($2.5 billion, £1.36 billion), Xinhua news agency reported. The most recent stormy weather has hit Jiangsu province hardest. “So far, 27 people are reported dead, nearly 40,000 have been evacuated, and more than 8,400 houses have collapsed,” Zhao Jie of the Ministry of Civil Affairs told the China Daily newspaper. Three more people have been killed in neighbouring Anhui province. Seasonal heavy rains and typhoons causes hundreds of deaths in China each year. But meteorologists expect this summer to be particularly bad, with warm Pacific currents causing more typhoons than usual.

14 July 2006

Ships were advised to take shelter and more than 250,000 people were evacuated from China’s Fujian province on today before severe tropical storm “Bilis” struck the east China coast around 14:00, local time. People were also moved out of low-lying areas in Zhejiang province south of Shanghai as the storm approached the China coast. Packing 90 kmph winds the storm tore across the northern tip of Taiwan overnight yesterday before crossing the Taiwan Strait today. The storm brought torrential rain, but caused relatively little damage. The ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung were closed as a precaution, but operations at Kaohsiung returned to normal by 08:00, local time, today with more than ten vessels berthing at the port by 10:00 hrs. Taiwan’s central disaster response centre said more than 4,000 Chinese fishermen had been allowed to take temporary shelter at ports around Taiwan.

16 July 2006

Chinese authorities say at least 42 people are dead and more than 100 are missing in the country’s south-east after tropical storm “Bilis” caused severe rainstorms and flooding. The latest figures take the storm’s death toll to 59 after it killed 14 in the Philippines and three in Taiwan. Authorities say the storm weakened after hitting mainland China but caused serious flooding in eastern and southern Hunan province, where it claimed most of its casualties. More than 500,000 people were evacuated from their homes before the storm arrived. In southern Taiwan, a 29-year-old soldier was killed by a falling tree in his camp and another two people drowned. In the Philippines, six of the 14 fatalities were children swept away by floodwaters or buried in landslides. More than 51,000 people have been displaced, seven are still missing and 15 have been injured across the northern part of the south-east Asian archipelago.

16 July 2006

Tropical storm “Bilis” killed at least 48 people and injured hundreds as it churned across China’s southeast, toppling houses and forcing authorities to evacuate a prison and thousands of villagers, news reports said today. More than 100 people were missing after “Bilis” swept through the densely populated coast early Friday (July 14) and turned inland, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing disaster officials. Hardest-hit was the inland province of Hunan, where at least 39 people were dead and 100 missing, Xinhua reported, without saying how the deaths occurred. It said 349 people were injured in Hunan and 12,000 stranded by high water, while 31,400 houses collapsed and 36,630 hectares (91,200 acres) of crops ruined. In the city of Lechang, waters were three metres deep in some places, forcing authorities to move 1,663 inmates from a prison to higher ground, Xinhua said. Rising water damaged the main railway line linking Beijing with the southern business capital of Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, causing delays for thousands of travellers on the busy route. In the southeastern coastal province of Guangdong, nine people were dead and 13 missing, the agency said. The area is the centre of China’s export-driven manufacturing industries. Losses in the neighbouring coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian were estimated at 1.1 billion yuan ($140 million), Xinhua said. It didn’t give figures for Guangdong or Hunan. The storm flooded farmland and cut roads and power lines, Xinhua said. A Russian vessel sank off the coast during the storm, but the 11-member crew were rescued, Xinhua said. China had evacuated more than 250,000 fishermen and others from coastal areas and cancelled airline flights. “Bilis” weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm early Friday after lashing Taiwan. At least 349 people died in China in June due to flooding, landslides and other weather-related disasters, with another 99 people missing, the government says. Damage was estimated at $2.5 billion.

17 July 2006

Torrential rains killed at least 164 people across south China over the weekend, flooding major cities, sweeping away houses and cutting off a main rail link, state media reported today. The rains were triggered by Tropical Storm “Bilis”, which killed dozens in the Philippines and Taiwan before hitting China on Friday (July 14). Forecasters had said the storm would weaken as it hit China, but instead it wrought havoc across the country’s south. Downpours continued today across much of southern China, where 12 million people in six provinces have been affected by floods and 138 are still missing, state-run China Central Television (CCTV) said. A section of the Beijing-Zhuhai highway that links the national capital to the country’s southern industrial hubs has been submerged by water as deep as three meters in Hunan, CCTV said. In far southern Guangdong province, floods severed water supplies and caused blackouts in Shaoguan, a city of half a million, the television said. In the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, where Bilis made landfall in China, floods swept away 19,000 homes and forced the evacuation of 519,000 people, the Beijing News said. CCTV showed pictures of residents wading in water up to their knees on flooded streets in the provincial capital Fuzhou. The Beijing-Guangzhou railway was cut near Shaoguan, disrupting cargo and passenger services, and it was unclear when trains services could resume, CCTV said.

18 July 2006

Floods fed by torrential rains caused by Tropical Storm “Bilis” were retreating in south China today after claiming at least 188 lives, officials said, as people coped with water shortages, ruined roads and other damage. Rain was still forecast for the worst-hit provinces of Hunan and Guangdong over the next two days, but officials and residents there reached by telephone today reported only intermittent drizzle and even sunshine. In the far-southern province of Guangdong, where at least 44 were killed, the government was distributing clean water in Shaoguan, a city of half a million that was flooded. About 8,800 passengers had been stranded for more than 40 hours after the Beijing-Guangzhou railway was cut by floods and landslides near Shaoguan, Xinhua news agency said. Trains resumed today. In nearby Lechang, a prison was besieged by flood waters and more than 1,600 inmates and 220 guards struggled without fresh food and drinking water for three days before helicopters airdropped supplies on Monday, Xinhua said. Vice Premier Hui Liangyu flew to neighbouring Hunan province yesterday, where 92 were confirmed dead and more than 100 were missing, a local official said by telephone. State television showed footage of soldiers evacuating villagers stranded on the roofs of their homes in Hunan. “The biggest problem now is drinking water. Many wells in the countryside were flooded,” an official surnamed Huang in Leiyang, one of Hunan’s worst-hit areas, told Reuters by telephone. “And it is very hot today. There is an epidemic threat.” The rains also claimed 43 lives in the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, where Bilis made landfall in China, and nine in the southwestern region of Guangxi. Some 2.2 million people were evacuated because of Bilis, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said. Direct economic losses from the storm totaled 12 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) after 160,000 hectares of crops and 113,000 houses were destroyed, the Ministry said on its web site.

18 July 2006

More than 6,900 people, mainly seafood farmers, had been evacuated from their homes in Southeast China by this afternoon as Typhoon “Bilis” approached, local authorities said. As of 17:00 hrs, today, the eye of “Bilis” was located about 120 km southeast of Hualien, Taiwan Province, and was moving northwestward at around 15 to 20 km per-hour toward eastern Taiwan, packing winds of 117 km per-hour, the provincial observatory of Fujian said. “Bilis” is estimated to land on northeastern Taiwan tonight and on the mainland province of Fujian at noon tomorrow. The observatory issued alarms against rainstorms and strong winds. As of 16:30 hrs, today, more than 8,900 fishing boats had been directed back to harbour. All passenger liners had suspended services in Fujian. Air traffic in the province continued, but local airports were on high alert to make responsive changes in fights, according to the provincial office for flood and drought relief. Meanwhile, water conservation workers were checking reservoirs in preparation for flooding as the storm was expected to bring rainfalls of up to 250 mm from tonight. The fishery departments of eastern Zhejiang Province, neighboring Fujian, has also issued warnings of high seas and rainstorms, advising vessels to return to harbor ahead of the storm.

22 June 2006 Indonesia

Soldiers pulled bodies from villages razed by floods and landslides in central Indonesia today, bringing the death toll from days of heavy rain to more than 200 people, officials said. Another 135 people were missing. At least two roads were blocked by landslides, and water and mud reached almost seven feet high in Sinjai, the hardest hit district of southern Sulawesi province, where rescuers scrambled to evacuate survivors. The number of dead climbed to 201 and hopes of finding the scores of people still missing were quickly fading, said Dadang, an official at the island’s disaster relief coordination office who goes by one name. “Rescuers say most of the missing people are likely to have been swept out to sea,” said Ode Parmodes, also of the relief office. The flash floods and landslides were triggered by incessant rains since Monday (June 19), and the government has promised an investigation into claims that illegal logging may have been a contributory factor.

23 June 2006

Indonesian search and rescue operations turned to the sea today in the search for missing victims after landslides and floods on eastern Sulawesi island killed at least 215 people. A senior Red Cross official said some people might have been swept away after two days of torrential rain in South Sulawesi province at the beginning of the week flattened homes and turned vast swathes of land into lakes. More than 60 people are still missing in the area where rescuers have been scouring mud-filled homes and digging into mud from landslides or left behind by the floods in their search for survivors. Worst-hit Sinjai regency accounted for 185 deaths while the rest of the deaths occurred in other regencies in the province. Rescue efforts have been hampered by the inaccessibility of some areas because roads and bridges have been damaged. Many villages on riverbanks in the area have been damaged with traditional wooden houses flattened and concrete buildings covered with mud. Aid workers have set up public kitchens and the central government has sent medicines, blankets and sarongs and instructed local officials to help people move to safer areas.

26 June 2006

At least 21 people were killed and tens of others went missing after flood and landslide hit a number of villages in the Indonesian province of South Kalimantan, a report said today. The flood and landslide occurred in the early hours of yesterday as local people were still asleep, reported the national Antara news agency. Tens of houses were either buried in mud and carried away by water currents. South Kalimantan Governor H. Rudy Ariffin who is also chairman of the provincial natural disaster mitigation task force had ordered a team of rescue workers to leave for flood-and landslide-stricken areas soon. The team of rescue workers was equipped with five rubber boats, cars, medical equipment and kitchen implements to help victims who lost their houses in the floods and landslides.

29 June 2006

Floods triggered by heavy rains in the Indonesian portion of Borneo island have forced at least 40,000 people to flee their homes and killed at least two people. “Some 40,000 people in Banjar district have left their homes for safer ground after the waters of the Martapura and Riam Kiwa rivers began flooding,” said Hadi Susilo, from South Kalimantan’s disaster control office. Downpours to the north of South Kalimantan province had swollen the rivers drastically from yesterday morning and flooded most of the district, with some areas under more than two metres of water, he said. About 3,000 of the evacuees feared that a local dam would burst its banks, Susilo said. “Besides the number of people who left their homes, what is making it more difficult to handle is that this is happening at the same time in so many places across the district,” Susilo said. Floods had also hit some areas in Tanah Bumbu district but as the waters were not too deep, mass evacuations had not occurred, he said. Two people swept away by floods in the district’s Setui area however were found dead, he said. Widespread floods and landslides hit the Kotabaru district of South Kalimantan earlier in the week, cutting off roads and bridges. Heavy tropical rains have also lashed regions on the island of Sulawesi this month. In South Sulawesi, flash floods and landslides killed more than 200 people and left some 13,000 people homeless.

22 June 2006 New Zealand

A maritime expert has testified that “foolhardy” decisions by an Inter-islander ferry captain almost caused roll on roll off Aratere to capsize during a crossing of Cook Strait in rough seas. Captain Wayne Osmond was suspended by Maritime New Zealand as a master after the Mar 3 journey, when the vessel heeled over 45 and 50 deg on two separate occasions. Mr Osmond - in the Wellington District Court - claims the suspension was unreasonable and unjustified. The court has heard how Mr Osmond’s control of the vessel during the crossing had been criticised, the Dominion Post reported. During the sailing, five rail freight carriages were toppled and trucks and cars were damaged. Three passengers and a crew member were injured. One suffered a broken arm and the others had minor injuries. Maritime NZ’s expert witness Gordon Wood, a former ferry master, said at the hearing’s first day yesterday that Mr Osmond’s captaining of the vessel during the crossing was flawed and “foolhardy”. Mr Wood said if the vessel had capsized most passengers would have been trapped inside and would have had no warning or time to put on lifejackets. “It is not unreasonable to conclude that heavy loss of life would have occurred.” Mr Wood’s evidence is strongly disputed by Mr Osmond, who will call a string of witnesses. Under cross-examination, Mr Wood conceded he was not familiar with all Aratere’s characteristics and had not examined data on the vessel’s stability. He had applied for a master’s position with the Inter-islander that Mr Osmond was later appointed to, the court was told. Maritime NZ and Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigations into the sailing are continuing.

26 June 2006

Insurers have raised their estimate of the cost of the South Island snowstorms from NZ$5 million to NZ$35 million (£21 million) as the Government promised more aid for farmers. Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said: “It’s possibly the biggest claim for a snowstorm in two decades.” The Government announced yesterday that it would give more help to snow-bound Canterbury farmers and communities amid growing concerns of long-term economic crisis. About 150 households faced a 15th day without power yesterday. Thousands of homes in South Canterbury were left without electricity two weeks ago when snow brought down power lines. Homes near Wairoa in the North Island were also cut off this week after a storm. More damage has been revealed as snow thaws in the South Island. Some buildings collapsed as many as 10 or 12 days after the snow fell. Mr Ryan said he did not have an estimate for claims from Wairoa. The estimate for the South Island storms compared to $50 million of claims for floods in Queenstown in 1999, and $110 million for the Manawatu floods.

25 June 2006 Romania

Twelve people are dead and three missing after heavy rains flooded villages across Romania in the past five days, the Interior Ministry said today. “Twelve people died because of the water wave … and our staff are still looking for three more people,” the ministry said in a statement. The most affected county was Bistrita Nasaud in central Romania, where ten deaths occurred. One person died in the county of Arad, close to the border with Hungary, and another one in the northern county of Maramures. About 127 people were evacuated and around 1,440 homes were damaged in 87 villages affected by flooding across the country.

1 July 2006

Six people were killed and six others missing after torrential rains flooded villages in northern Romania, the Interior Ministry said today. The most affected county was Suceava, close to the northern border with Ukraine, where the deaths occurred. Floodwaters killed five peasants in the village of Arbore and another one in the village of Cacica. About 530 people were evacuated from eight counties, most of them in northern Romania, and around 2,700 homes were damaged.

30 June 2006 India

A number of homes have been washed away and a power station has been damaged after heavy rain led to a landslide in Kullu, India. Authorities say three houses were completely destroyed, while two others suffered severe damage when the slide happened June 27. The Parvati Hydro-Power Project was thought to be in danger of being closed after it received substantial damage from the slide. However, officials say the project will survive and the damage is repairable. Fortunately, no fatalities or serious injuries were reported during the landslide.

3 July 2006

Monsoon rains flooded homes, submerged rail lines and forced hundreds of thousands of people to wade through muddy streets in India’s financial capital today. The city’s antiquated drainage system is struggling to cope with the downpours, prompting civic workers to use spades and crowbars to open clogged manholes to flush out the rainwater. “Our locality looks like a sea. There is knee-deep water and rainwater is also entering many houses,” Sylvester Nato, a resident of Bandra, among several neighborhoods in the city’s west badly affected by the overnight rains. The downpours inundated several arterial roads in central and northern Mumbai and rainwater submerged rail tracks at some places. Air services were also running a little late. Weather officials forecast heavy to very heavy rains in the next 48 hours, prompting civic authorities to check drainage systems, traffic management and the suburban railway that is a lifeline for most of Mumbai’s 17 million people. “There are some reports of water-logging in some areas, but we are working to clear those roads,” said Johny Joseph, Mumbai’s chief civic official. Millions of dollars have been approved to overhaul Mumbai’s 150-year-old drainage system, but experts say flooding is difficult to prevent because of rampant growth of buildings on wetlands, the city’s natural drainage system.

4 July 2006

Heavy rains triggered floods and landslides across India, killing 32 people and disrupting life in the financial hub of Mumbai for a second day today, officials and residents said. The bad weather was caused by a depression over the east coast and a revival of the June-September annual monsoon rains. At least 24 people were killed in the eastern states of Orissa and Jharkhand and several were missing in neighbouring West Bengal after torrential rains caused rivers to break their banks and triggered landslides, officials said. Six people, including four women, were killed in a landslide in the coffee-growing Kodagu district in the southern state of Karnataka, police said. Two people were washed away in flood waters, ten fishermen were missing and thousands displaced in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh as hundreds of villages were inundated. Navy boats and helicopters had been pressed in to rescue marooned people from rooftops and also to drop food, medicine and water packets, authorities said. In Mumbai, the country’s commercial capital, schools and colleges were shut and emergency workers flushed muddy waters from submerged streets as the bustling city struggled to cope with a second day of monsoon rains. Weather officials said a depression on the east coast was weakening and was heading towards Mumbai. This would bring more rain to the city and the central state of Madhya Pradesh over the next few days, they warned.

6 July 2006

Incessant rain in Mumbai since Monday (July 3) has crippled cargo handling operations and ship movements at Mumbai port and neighbouring Jawaharlal Nehru port. Mumbai port, which handles 25,000-30,000 tonnes of cargo every day, could only handle around one-eighth of that volume during the brief periods of respite from the rain. “Barely 10,000 tonnes of cargo could be handled against the normal 75,000-80,000 tonnes over a three-day period,” said TVS Sowrirajan, Mumbai port’s additional docks manager. The port had earlier undertaken monsoon precautionary measures, including plugging of leakages and removing blockages in the dock areas. But the sheer quantum of rain made cargo operations extremely difficult, and many dock employees could not make it to work. Similarly, normal operations at Paradip port in Orissa on India’s eastern coast were badly hit by the inclement weather. Heavy rains along with wind speeds of 90 km per-hour lashed the port, forcing the authorities to raise cyclone signal No. 3. Ship movement to and from the port was particularly hit. As a result, several berths remained vacant even as the number of ships waiting for berths increased. “No ships could be either taken in or taken out of the impounded dock system between Sunday and Wednesday due to the unfavourable weather conditions,” a Paradip Port Trust spokesman said. “As a result, six out of 14 berths remained vacant.” The number of ships waiting at anchorage for berths was nine yesterday and 11 today. With the weather situation having improved a little by yesterday afternoon, port operations were limping back to normal.

6 July 2006

Heavy rains kept schools and colleges shut for a third day yesterday, and meteorologists forecast more for Bombay as the nationwide death toll rose to more than 250 since the monsoon began in June. The warnings came as officials in the eastern state of Orissa said torrential rains killed at least 20 people, and nine people reportedly died elsewhere in the country. The Mumbai city airport today resumed air traffic operations after five days of heavy downpour, that had resulted in the flooding of the runway, leading to diversion and delay of flights, airport sources said. All flights operated today but 15-20 minutes behind schedule due to operational reasons, airport sources said. Meanwhile, Mumbai International Airport Private Limited (MIAL), a body set up for the maintenance of the airport, said work was done on a war-footing to drain out water from a flooded runway at Chhatrapati Shivaji terminal yesterday. However, flights were operated from another runway, MIAL officials said. “The runway has been restored for normal aircraft operations today,” it said.

2 July 2006 Thailand

Torrential rains caused flash floods as high as two metres in some areas in Thailand’s eastern seaside resort province of ChonBuri today, inundating hundreds of houses and causing some damage, the Thai News Agency reported. Rains are forecast to continue for two more days. Many villages in Chonburi’s coastal Banglamung district were submerged last night after heavy downpours brought flash floods in the areas. The floods caused heavy damage to hundreds of homes and buildings, roads and other infrastructure. Some villagers said they were unprepared as floods hit the areas quickly and they never experienced such a large-scale flood before. Rescue workers rushed to help the flood victims with boats but relief efforts were hampered as a main road was cut due to two- meter high waters and some parts of the road were impassable. Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department issued its updated weather forecast, warning residents in the Eastern region, particularly in Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces to brace for possible flash floods and water run-off today and tomorrow.

29 June 2006 United States of America

Up to 200,000 evacuees from water-logged Wilkes-Barre were told they could go home today after levees held back the Susquehanna River, but swollen rivers still wreaked havoc in the US northeast. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine told reporters water levels along the Delaware River could crest in the afternoon near 25 feet, a level that would rival floods of last year, and could lead to serious problems in the state capital, Trenton. He said damage in the state could be comparable to floods last year that caused losses valued at $30 million. New York Gov. George Pataki said after visiting the flooded city of Binghamton the destruction was unprecedented and the cost could run into hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a spokesman, Saleem Cheeks. Days of torrential rain followed by floods had killed at least 16 people in the eastern United States today, including those killed in storm-related road accidents. With buildings submerged, roads washed out and rivers surging, authorities declared emergencies yesterday and ordered hundreds of thousands of people evacuated in New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service warned there could be severe thunderstorms across New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland later in the day.

30 June 2006

As the waters receded today, authorities estimated damages could easily top $100 million after floods destroyed roads and bridges and drove hundreds of thousands from homes in the US Northeast. Art Stephens, deputy chief of staff to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said at least a quarter of a million people in Pennsylvania alone had left their homes at some point since the floods started on Tuesday. Tens of thousands more were evacuated in parts of New Jersey and New York. New York Gov. George Pataki assessed the damage in his state in the hundreds of millions. “If you look at all the homes that have been lost, businesses, and of course the infrastructure - the roads and bridges that have been washed out it’s got to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Pataki told CNN as he toured devastated areas by helicopter. The worst hit area in New York was around the city of Binghamton. Deputy Mayor Tarik Abdelazim said the sewage system sustained around $20 million worth of damage. In Pennsylvania, state emergency management director James Joseph said officials had started to assess the damage but conditions in some areas were still severe. For example, the central Pennsylvania city of Bloomsburg was 40 percent under water yesterday, Joseph said. In northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County, preliminary estimates indicated 500 to 1,000 houses and businesses were damaged, ten to 15 bridges were either swept away or made unstable, and six to seven miles of road were washed out. Todd Vonderheid, one of the county commissioners, estimated the cost of repairing public infrastructure at between $15 million and $30 million.

6 July 2006

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent a team to Alamogordo, New Mexico, to assess damages from flooding in the south-central community last month. Federal, state and city officials were to meet this morning to discuss the damage and to visit areas of Alamogordo that were hardest hit. FEMA officials made a preliminary visit last week to survey roads, parks and other public infrastructure damaged by the flood. The officials will decide if there’s enough damage to qualify as a federal disaster. That would make the city eligible for reimbursement from the federal government. It has been estimated that the cost of cleanup will be more than $5 million.

9 July 2006

Flash flooding blocked roads, inundated homes and forced evacuations in parts of the Southwest. More thunderstorms and heavy rain were likely today in New Mexico, the National Weather Service said. More rain was also possible to the north in Colorado, where storms had already flooded homes and washed out roads. Thunderstorms dropped an estimated three inches of rain in an hour yesterday over Truth or Consequences and the surrounding area, south of Albuquerque, the weather service said. Flooding washed out roads in Rio Rancho, just north of Albuquerque, and four feet of water covered an Interstate 25 exit in Socorro. Colorado Governor Bill Owens issued a disaster emergency order yesterday for Douglas County, southwest of Denver, where rain had washed out roads and flooded homes in areas stripped of vegetation by a 138,000-acre wildfire in 2002. Residents of about a dozen Douglas County homes between Deckers and Westcreek were isolated by flooding yesterday. Several campgrounds were evacuated on Friday (July 7), and occupants of 86 homes in the Westcreek area were urged to evacuate, local officials said.

9 July 2006

A powerful storm tore through Milwaukee and Waukesha counties today. When it was over, trees were down, drivers were stranded in floodwaters and thousands were left without power. The storm packed winds as high as 60 miles an hour. Heavy downpours triggered flash flooding that closed many streets and highways. We Energies report power was knocked out to 40,000 customers. Crews will be working through the night to get power restored.

10 July 2006

The cost estimate for damages at a Binghamton hospital as a result of last week’s flooding has doubled. The president of Lourdes Hospital says the price tag now is expected to approach 20 million dollars. And John O-Neil told Binghamton radio station W-N-B-F that the ultimate cost may top that figure. O-Neil says about half of the damage should be covered by flood insurance. He says the hospital may receive some federal and state assistance to cover some of the costs.

Montgomery County, New York, businesses have sustained at least $100 million in economic damage from the flooding which hit the Mohawk Valley the last week in June, county economic developer Kenneth Rose said today. Between the large and small businesses in the rural county, Rose estimated that between 500 to 600 people were put out of work, or are still out of work because of flooding. The damage is “pretty substantial in the small villages that are our economy,” Rose said. County officials are certain that state and federal money will be available to help these businesses get running again, Rose said, but that takes time. In the interim, the county Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Wednesday (July 12) night to make $6 million that the county has in the bank available in the form of emergency loans to local businesses, Rose said. The “bridge loans” will provide immediate operating capital while the businesses wait for federal aid and loan dollars. The key is to get money out there quickly, Rose said. Montgomery County is one of New York counties in which businesses are eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Business Physical Disaster Loans, and Mitigation Loans. Cellect LLC, a St. Johnsville company that makes polyolefun bun foams, sustained at least $10 million in damage, according to CEO Scott Smith. Canajo Manufacturing, an employee-owned candy and gum maker in Canajoharie that employs 120 people, has suffered about $4 million in damage, while Beechnut Nutrition, the baby food maker located in the same village, is estimating damages of $25 million, Rose said.

12 July 2006

The muddy river and creek water that spilled over its banks in the last week of June caused estimated property damage in excess of $20 million in Montgomery County, according county public safety Deputy Director Michelle R. Jackson. The county was “extremely fortunate” that no one was killed or seriously injured in the flooding brought on by torrential rains, added commissioners’ Chairman Thomas J. Ellis. Their comments came as Jackson delivered a flood impact status report to the commissioners on July 6. A total of 484 buildings sustained some damage from the floodwaters including 267 single-family residences, 51 multi-family buildings such as apartments or townhouses buildings and 166 businesses. However, according to the department’s initial report, no building was totally destroyed. Montgomery County was given a federal disaster designation last Thursday (July 6), raising to 15 the total number of counties receiving federal aid. This designation enables homeowners, renters and businesses to get financial assistance, whether from grants or low-interest loans, to aid them in recovering from the disaster.

13 July 2006

Up to 9 inches of rain brought flooding to Indiana and Ohio yesterday, killing a woman, while a tornado in a county north of New York City partly collapsed a commercial building and ripped the roof off a hotel. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning yesterday for several counties in Indiana. Pam Soule, emergency management director for LaGrange County in Indiana, said a weather observer in Olive Lake reported 9 inches of rain. Floodwaters damaged at least seven homes in Topeka and two homes in Clearspring Township. Topeka firefighters were filling sandbags to protect other homes, but she said conditions were improving. Meanwhile, a tornado in Mount Pleasant, NY, threw a truck onto gasoline pumps, partly collapsed a commercial building and ripped off a hotel’s roof. There were no reported injuries, officials said, but power was knocked out to more than 4,000 residents. In North Dakota, parts of which reported temperatures in the 100s yesterday, a storm damaged more than two dozen buildings in the McLean County town of Coleharbor, blew grain bins through town and destroyed an old brick schoolhouse, authorities said. Two minor injuries were reported.

12 July 2006 Chile

Ten people dead, nine disappeared and over 28,000 displaced is the primary this morning balance of the torrential rains which have been punishing central and south Chile since late yesterday and are forecasted to continue. Chilean authorities have declared the VIII Region, “catastrophe zone” with over 400 people reported homeless with total loss of property given the intensity of the rain and subsequent mudslides, reported the Chilean Emergency Office. In metropolitan Santiago over 700 people had to be rescued and or protected from the pouring rain and strong winds which fell hundreds of trees and electricity lines. Over 10,000 houses were left without electricity and several areas of the city are flooded with vehicles and public transport clogged in the muddy waters. Another 60 mm of rainfall are forecasted in the coming 24 hours. The Chilean Emergency office has kept Yellow Alert in Regions IV, V, Metropolitan, VI, IX and X, with Red Alert in regions VII and VIII. All ports in regions IV to X have been closed for small vessels and the same applies to all vessels in ValparaÌso and San Antonio. The main Andes tunnel leading to Argentina has also been temporarily shut down because of snow and wind. In other mountain crossings traffic is restricted and all vehicles must transit with chains in wheels.

13 July 2006

Flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rain in central Chile left at least 11 people dead and forced 30,000 to flee their inundated homes yesterday, the government said. President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency in the area, about 300 miles south of Santiago, because of massive flooding triggered by rain-swollen rivers, the Interior Ministry’s National Emergency Office said. Seven of the deaths occurred in a landslide in Chiguayante, where a family of four was buried along with three firefighters, the emergency office said. Chilean power generators opened floodgates at major reservoirs because of the heavy rain that also washed out roads and cut electricity in isolated rural areas.

11 July 2006 Pakistan

Torrential rains triggered flooding that washed away homes in a village in north-western Pakistan, killing 13 people and injuring about 300, the military said Tuesday. Heavy rains lashed the village of Gorvek in the mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, yesterday and today, the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations department reported. Dozens of mud and stone homes were either washed away or severely damaged, the department said, killing 13 people, including women and children. Soldiers recovered the bodies and helped to treat the injured.

16 July 2006 South and North Korea

Torrential rain in South Korea has killed ten people and 17 others are missing and presumed dead, the national emergency agency said today. The central and eastern regions of the country including capital Seoul are under a heavy rain warning, and nearly two thousand people have fled their homes and are in emergency shelters, the National Emergency Management Agency said in a report. The national meteorological agency is forecasting more heavy rain through today and into tomorrow, with some regions receiving more than 25 cm of precipitation before midnight, today.

16 July 2006

Landslides and flash floods caused by heavy rains in eastern South Korea killed at least 13 people and left another 18 missing, officials said today, and warned of further downpours across the country in the coming days. Authorities issued an “orange” alert, the second highest of four alert levels, for the capital, Seoul, and the surrounding area, as well as in the mountainous Gangwon province on the country’s east coast, the National Emergency Management Agency said. The upgraded alert was issued because of “a high likelihood of major disasters,” the agency said. The rest of the country was put on “yellow” alert, one notch below orange. The Korea Meteorological Administration warned of more heavy rain nationwide through Thursday as a seasonal rain front moved southward. President Roh Moo-hyun visited the emergency agency today and called for “thorough preparations to minimize damage,” the agency said. Roh’s office held an emergency meeting, and all related government departments were on high alert to ensure a swift response to major disasters, the office said in a statement. Up to 50 centimetres of rain fell in the Gangwon, the hardest hit area, from Friday, according to the emergency agency. Mudslides killed 11 people in Gangwon and another 18 people were missing after landslides and flash floods, the emergency agency said. In other parts of the country, two people were also found dead. More than 200 people remained isolated in Gangwon, with major roads inaccessible because of flooding, according to the agency. Most of the displaced are in temporary shelters in the province, where electricity and telephone communications were cut off in many parts, it said. Torrential rains also flooded some 1,300 homes across the nation, forcing nearly 3,000 people to seek refuge elsewhere, the emergency agency said. The government has provided them with first aid kits and basic necessities, like water and food, it said. In Seoul, which received some 30 centimetres of rain, a flood advisory was issued for the Han River, which runs through it, according to the weather agency. Today, North Korea reported that heavy rains had “seriously flooded farmland” across the country, but did not mention any human casualties. “The heavy rains continue and an investigation is underway to estimate damage,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said.

17 July 2006

At least 15 people have been killed in South Korea as heavy monsoon rains continue for a fourth consecutive day. The National Emergency Management Agency says 26 others are missing following landslides and flash floods. Many people are trapped in remote villages.

18 July 2006

At least 29 people have been killed and another 32 are missing in flooding and landslides after a week of torrential rain across South Korea, officials said today. In the last four days, a storm dumped more than 50 cm of rain in some eastern provinces, killing at least 19 people, the National Emergency Management Agency said. The storm, coming on the back of Typhoon “Ewiniar” which slammed into the Korean peninsula a few days earlier, washed away parts of highways, flooded subway stations and caused Seoul’s Han River to spill over its banks. Tens of thousands of buildings have lost power and thousands of families have been evacuated from their homes, it said. Officials estimated the cost of the damage at more than 300 billion won ($300 million) by July 13, adding the final cost would certainly rise.

19 July 2006

At least 129 people have died in North and South Korea as a result of flooding and landslides over the last few days, according to officials and a leading international relief agency. In secretive North Korea, over 100 people died and thousands of people were left homeless, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said, citing reports. At least 29 people have been killed and another 32 are missing in South Korea after a week of torrential rain, officials said. In the last four days, a storm dumped more than 50 cm of rain in some eastern provinces of South Korea, killing at least 19 people, the National Emergency Management Agency said. The storm, coming on the back of Typhoon “Ewiniar” which slammed into the Korean peninsula a few days earlier, washed away parts of highways, flooded subway stations and caused Seoul’s Han River to spill over its banks. Tens of thousands of buildings have lost power and thousands of families have been evacuated from their homes, it said. Officials estimated the cost of the damage at more than 300 billion won ($490 million) by July 13, adding the final cost would certainly rise. The Federation said that farmland had been inundated, wiping out much of the coming harvest in the North Korean provinces of Pyongan, North Hwanghe and Kangwon. “In some remote areas, whole villages have been swept away and essential public services, such as healthcare clinics, have been destroyed,” said Jaap Timmer, the Federation’s head of delegation in the North Korean capital. “There has also been widespread damage to roads and bridges, which has left many people displaced or stranded,” he added in a statement. North Korea said in an official media report over the weekend that it been hit hard by the storms. “Agricultural and other sectors of the national economy and people’s living were badly damaged by heavy rains in some areas,” its KCNA news agency reported.

15 July 2006 Nepal

A landslide triggered by monsoon rains swept through a village in north-west Nepal before dawn today, killing at least 17 people as they slept, officials said. Another 13 people were missing and feared dead after the wall of mud and rock buried seven houses, local administrator Badri Ghimire said. About 200 soldiers were working with residents to dig through the debris in Ulleri village, about 125 miles northwest of the capital, Katmandu.

20 July 2006 Vietnam

With major flooding and damage in northern regions of Vietnam, central and local authorities are taking into serious consideration plans to mitigate the natural disasters and help provide relief. Heavy rains, floods, and landslides this week ravaged the northern mountainous provinces of Bac Can, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Lai Chau, and Tuyen Quang, Phu Tho, and Lao Cai, central and local authorities worked out measures to help people reduce the damage. Yesterday, Vietnam’s President Nguyen Minh Triet and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued directives to the Central Steering Committee for Flood Control and Prevention and local provincial people’s committees to swiftly deploy necessary measures to combat floods and get relief to those who need it. An initial survey of the damage revealed that the series of natural calamity has left 12 people dead or missing, over 400 houses collapsed or damaged, and 53 hectares of crops ruined. Floods swept away streets and other public construction sites, causing traffic jams and damage to irrigation networks throughout the northern region. With another storm on the way, fishing boats have been warned to avoid the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos, and northern regions of the East Sea.

Related articles