Molave, which hit Quang Ngai province in late October, was the strongest typhoon 80-year-old Huynh Thi Phuong of Binh Thuan commune has ever witnessed in her life. In a couple of hours, it blew down trees, demolished houses, and submerged crops. Another resident Nguyen Bong was made homeless and is currently sheltering at a relative’s house because the typhoon unroofed the charitable house he was given years ago and cracked its wall. It will cost him 860 USD to repair it. Nguyen Long’s house was also damaged by the typhoon, but given its slight damage, Long will fix it using his own money so neighbors with worse damage can use the aid. The typhoon prevented Long, along with other local fishermen, from fishing offshore, so his family lost income.
Houses in Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province, are damaged by storm Molave.
Meanwhile, Pham Thi En stayed safe and sound through the disaster because she lives in a safe house which was completed last June. Her previous house collapsed in a storm last year. En, who is categorized as a poor household, was granted a new safe house.
“A tree fell on my house and crushed it. As a lonely elder, I was chosen for this safe housing model. I’m so thankful for that. If I had built a house myself, it might have collapsed in storm Molave. My safe house also sheltered my neighbors. They didn’t have to evacuate to a distant place like they used to,” said En.
|A safe house remains intact through Molave, the strongest storm to hit the region in decades. (Photo: baotainguyenmoitruong.vn)
The mezzanine level is a crucial element of the project’s storm and flood-resilient housing design. Project houses must have mezzanines that are higher than the maximum flood level in the area in which they are constructed.
UNDP project coordinator Vu Thai Truong told VOV, “All project houses have solid, reinforced structures made with high quality materials and strong foundations. The mezzanines must be 1.5 meters higher than the maximum flood level. The handrails of stairs to the mezzanines, doors, and windows must be made of strong materials. The doors must have strong latches to keep strong winds and rainfall from getting in. The roofs must be covered with tiles or metal sheets, fortified by bracing bars underneath. The drainage system around each house must be kept clear to ensure hygiene.”
The safe housing model primarily supports poor people, single mothers, people with disabilities, and others in difficult circumstances. The cost of a safe house is reasonable. The design, which incorporates local traditional elements, was approved by the Institute for Construction Science and Technology of the Ministry of Construction.
| A mezzanine is a distinct feature of each safe house. (Photo: baotainguyenmoitruong.vn)
According to Ngo Van Vuong, Chairman of Binh Thuan commune’s Peoples’s Committee, the safe housing model proved its effectiveness during storm Molave. Local authorities have encouraged people to build safe houses with their own money. If they can’t afford it, they are advised to dig a small storm-resistant trench.
“We are keeping our communications campaign going. When a typhoon hits, there has been no better way to protect lives than evacuation. Now, some people have enough money to build a solid house which can provide shelter for their neighbors during a natural disaster and reduce the number of evacuees. In storm Molave alone, more than 1,000 people were evacuated, most of them old people or children. Thankfully, no one was killed by the latest typhoon,” according to Chairman Vuong.
Binh Thuan commune is in a disaster-prone area, so, local people frequently study ways to survive calamities. But the safe housing model has proved to be one of the best ways to keep safe in a disaster.