Premier Lin Chuan today pledged to help Taitung residents get their lives back to normal as soon as possible after the eastern county suffered the brunt of Typhoon Nepartak, which pummeled Taiwan Friday.
While surveying hard-hit areas in Taitung, the premier said central and local governments must work closely together to restore water, electricity and transportation swiftly. He also thanked the military for their hard work in rescue and cleanup operations.
The powerful typhoon caused a wide range of structural damage to water, electricity, road and transportation systems, Lin said, adding that the immediate task at hand is to restore these vital systems. Aside from military troops, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is on the ground tending to typhoon victims. Taiwan Power Co. and Taiwan Water Corp. are also working around the clock to bring back basic water and electricity.
Regarding agricultural losses, the Council of Agriculture (COA) has declared Taitung and Pingtung counties natural disaster areas and will provide cash assistance and low-interest loans to affected farmers. Aid applications are to be accepted for 10 days beginning July 10. County governments will help process the applications while township and local officials will complete damage inspections as quickly as possible. The aim is to provide broad assistance in a rapid and simple manner.
The initial relief package for Taitung County will amount to NT$300 million (US$9.26 million) while Pingtung will receive NT$12 million (US$370,000), Premier Lin said. More assistance will follow depending on actual needs.
This crisis brings an opportunity for change, Lin continued. Faced with much damage, Taitung must not only change and rebuild itself but also improve its water drainage, siltation prevention, pest control and other capabilities. The COA’s Taitung District Agricultural Research Extension Station will collaborate with the county government and take this opportunity to improve crop cultivation methods and boost the productivity and competitiveness of Taitung farmers.
It is the government’s responsibility to protect the lives and property of citizens and solve society’s problems, the premier added. He expressed hope that central and local authorities will work closely to restore normalcy after the typhoon while at the same time formulate long-term solutions to the area’s problems.