Floods bring further hardship to Vietnamese in RoK amid COVID-19 pandemic

According to many Vietnamese in the Republic of Korea (RoK), challenges have increased when they have to cope with monsoon floods and landslides in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
August 13, 2020 | 07:32
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floods bring further hardship to vietnamese in rok amid covid 19 pandemic
Work to restore a flood-damaged traditional market is under way in Gurye, South Jeolla Province, on Aug. 11, 2020. The entire county was inundated by heavy rains. (Yonhap)

"80 percent of our farm got heavily damaged, with only a few chilies and okra remaining, forcing us to exit the vegetable season early," Tuyet Nhung, a Vietnamese farmer in Damyang Gun District, South Jeolla Province in the southwest of the RoK, told Vnexpress.

Nhung married a South Korean eight years ago and started growing beds of spinach, okra, amaranth and chilies on her 3,000-square-meter farm to supply the local Vietnamese community and a local supermarket.

Heavy rains that have killed more than 30 in the RoK have eased, but showers were expected for most parts of the country on August 12 as the country's monsoon season continued for 50 days, Yonhap News Agency reported.

This year's monsoon marked the country's longest season after a 49-day streak in 2013. It also marked the first monsoon season in decades that extended into mid-August.

The recent downpours that pounded the central region caused serious damage across the country, killing 33 and leaving nine others missing. Some 7,800 have been displaced from their homes, with more than 3,000 still unable to return.

Damage was reported at 24,203 facilities across the country, with 27,744 hectares of land inundated or damaged, according to the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters.

Heavy flooding has added to the woes of many Vietnamese in the RoK and locals already suffering the financial and vocational impacts of the new coronavirus.

"When I woke up on August 8, I was shocked to see the water covering my car's wheels. The surrounding roads were heavily submerged, preventing anyone from moving," Nhung said.

"The next day, when I visited the vegetable farm, around 20 minutes from my home, I could only stand outside watching as the waist-deep water destroyed the crops," Nhung shared. "I was saddened since all my efforts were for naught."

Damyang Gun has never been hit by such a heavy flood, with few locals foreseeing the consequences.

However, she said she still feels luckier than many other Vietnamese in Damyang Gun who, with their homes inundated, were forced to relocate to temporary shelters. According to Nhung, the community has banded together to collect funds for those currently in dire straits.

Ly Nha My, a student at nearby Gwangju Women's University in Gwangju Province, lost her part-time job on a farm after the heavy downpour affected many houses, companies and industrial parks near the river.

"The farm where I work was completely flooded. The owner is distraught with the loss. Like me, many laborers are now without a source of income," My said.

Taking advantage of the summer vacation, My wanted to earn a little more money to cover her living expenses, but the pandemic had forced restaurants and shops to close or reduce staff numbers.

"Hopefully the rain will stop soon so we can return to work," My said, adding students like her have no idea how to survive in the RoK amid the COVID-19 and flooding.

Living in Gwangju for the past three years, Thanh Van, a graduate from Chonnam National University, has also never witnessed such heavy flooding.

Van's school in the city center was also flooded, though the water receded after a few hours.

About a month ago, she had grown worried when Gwangju became the RoK's second biggest coronavirus hotspot.

Last weekend, Van was happy to see the sun shining, though she received a warning about Typhoon Jangmi, the fifth typhoon of the season, from the provincial office.

"This year, natural calamities are really unusual, happening in the middle of the new coronavirus crisis, making life of Vietnamese in RoK even more difficult," said Van.

floods bring further hardship to vietnamese in rok amid covid 19 pandemic
In this photo, taken on Aug. 11, 2020, health workers give a citizen a COVID-19 test at a makeshift clinic near Namdaemun Market in Seoul after eight merchants there tested positive for the virus. (Yonhap)

The RoK identified an additional 54 virus cases, including 35 local infections, raising the total caseload to 14,714 on August 12, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

It marked the first time since July 26 that the daily new COVID-19 cases hovered above 50. The number had remained between 20 and 40 this month.

Of the locally transmitted cases, 13 were reported in Seoul and 19 others in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, the KCDC said. The southeastern city of Busan added three more cases of COVID-19.

Amid concerns over cluster infections, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) expected wet weather to continue throughout this week, with another bout of heavy rain forecast for parts of Seoul and Gyeonggi, Gangwon and Chungcheong provinces later this week.

Separately, a heat advisory has been issued for parts of the country, including coastal areas in Gangwon, Daegu and the southern resort island of Jeju, with daytime highs forecast to reach 28 to 35 C.

Seoul was also among the areas where the advisory was issued. A heat warning is issued when the wind chill temperature remains above 33 C for two or more consecutive days or when damage from warm weather is expected.

The mercury was expected to surge above 35 C in the inner areas of Gyeongsang Province and Gangwon's coastal areas, with overnight temperature staying above 25 C in some places./.

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