Post-Typhoon Nepartak reconstruction in Taitung

  • Date: 2016-08-08

I. Background

On July 8, 2016, Typhoon Nepartak hit Taitung County hard. Arriving the following day to survey damaged areas, Premier Lin Chuan ordered prompt restoration of water, electricity and transportation services, and declared Taitung and Pingtung counties natural disaster areas eligible for cash assistance and low-interest loans to affected farmers. Shortly thereafter, the government convened a special project meeting to plan recovery and reconstruction, stationing Minister without Portfolio Wu Hong-mo, concurrently serving as Public Construction Commission (PCC) minister, in Taitung to orchestrate central government resources for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.

Recovery work in Taitung made great headway thanks to the joint efforts of central and local governments. The military provided all-out support for post-typhoon clean-up and recovery, while the Taiwan Railways Administration offered complimentary rides on the Taroko and Puyuma express trains to transport relief personnel to Taitung on July 10-11. The Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Council of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Administration and other relevant government agencies, along with other local governments, also supported the rescue, relief and reconstruction efforts, helping Taitung residents get their lives back to normal.

The Executive Yuan allocated NT$500 million (US$15.57 million) to the Taitung County Government on July 11 to conduct emergency rescue, disaster relief and recovery work, and an additional NT$300 million (US$9.34 million) to address agricultural losses. Cash assistance was distributed to affected farmers in a timely manner using flexible standards and streamlined procedures, as directed by Premier Lin.

 

II. Government response measures

A. Phase 1: Promptly restore normal living conditions and clean up debris

Minister Wu, stationed in Taitung, coordinated the resources of central and local governments. Water and electricity services were quickly restored by July 12, debris and downed trees were cleared from main roads by July 14, and normal telephone communications were restored on July 20.

B. Phase 2: Promptly provide cash assistance for agricultural losses and damaged homes using flexible standards and streamlined procedures

1. Under a special funding project, each household suffering damage to a roof, window, door, or steel roll-up door was granted a relief subsidy of up to NT$20,000 (US$622). Eligibility standards have been jointly set by the central and local governments, while personnel directly working with affected farmers and residents were given training to ensure efficient implementation.

2. Based on the guiding principles of prompt distribution, flexible standards and streamlined procedures, agricultural relief subsidies were quickly transferred to farmers’ bank accounts.

C. Phase 3: Conduct medium and long term reconstruction projects to turn Taitung into a major international tourist city

1. Move electricity poles underground on major urban roads and at tourist attractions.

2. Integrate private-sector resources to rebuild indigenous communities, providing sturdy homes that can withstand storms and earthquakes while also incorporating elements of aboriginal culture.

3. To pave the way for Taitung to become an international tourist city, reconstruction work should focus on increasing the number of street-side trees, informational signs, and open spaces, as well as developing “green” transportation.

 

III. Disaster relief and reconstruction progress

A. Support from local authorities and the armed forces

Between October 10 and 17, local governments provided 3,627 man-days, 1,836 vehicle-days and 1,306 machinery-days of assistance, and the armed forces provided 3,291 man-days and 739 vehicle-days.

B. Removal of debris and downed trees

The government removed 8,171 metric tons of debris and 11,055 metric tons of downed trees; by July 12, all 176 metric tons of driftwood in the Fugang Fishery Harbor was removed.

C. Cash assistance for crops, forestry and livestock losses

As of noon on August 18 a total of 9,522 farmers had applied for crop damage subsidies totaling around NT$773.83 million (US$24.09 million), and the Taitung County Government had distributed NT$331.45 million (US$10.32 million) to local farmers. Seven hundred seventy-eight applications were filed by county governments and forest district offices for tree damage, for a total relief subsidy of NT$20.71 million (US$644,769). Local governments had reviewed and submitted 49 applications for livestock damage requesting NT$5.97 million (US$185,865), with a final total of around 100 applications expected to claim NT$10 million (US$311,333). For damaged fishing boats or rafts, a special non-agricultural natural disaster relief fund was provided; applications were received for NT$4.6 million (US$143,212) for aquaculture losses and damaged set-nets, of which NT$600,000 (US$18,680) was allocated for set-nets.

D. School building repair and reconstruction

1. Senior high schools

The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) K-12 Education Administration on July 14 and 19 approved subsidies totaling NT$60.95 million (US$1.90 million) for the Taitung County Government to restore water, electricity and telecommunications services, and repair damaged structures.

2. Elementary and junior high schools

The Taitung County Government filed a report with the Executive Yuan on July 26 stating the reconstruction costs for elementary and junior high school buildings. After conducting on-site inspections with the MOE, the PCC convened a special review meeting attended by related ministries and agencies to facilitate the Executive Yuan’s approval of a NT$149.18 million (US$4.64 million) subsidy on August 9.

 

IV. Conclusion

With the full support of central and local governments, less than a week after being ravaged by Typhoon Nepartak Taitung looked as good as new, just in time to host the annual Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta on July 16. Going forward, the government pledges to integrate more resources to fast-track reconstruction work and help the county blend its natural beauty, cultural assets, green transportation, unique architecture and competitive industries to become a region characterized by a high quality of life, robust industries, sustainable ecosystems, beautiful scenery and safe communities.