Typhoon victims face forced relocation

The China Post staff

Fifteen people residing in a small village in the deep mountains of Nantou County’s Chushan township yesterday became the first group of Typhoon Toraji’s victims to be evicted from their houses for safety reasons. Officials from the mountain township decided to enforce the country’s disaster rescue and prevention laws, demanding that all residents relocate to safety to avoid future fatal disasters. In order to post the compulsory eviction notices, local civil servants were taken by two helicopters to the villagers’ houses and sheds scattered all over the mountain area, known by the locals as Ta-an-li. Authorities said since it would take a while for workers to fix the badly damaged main road connecting the village to the world outside, they had no choice but to ask the Ta-an-li’s residents to leave before the area gets hit by further mudslides.

However, for those facing the forcible relocation by the government, moving away from the places they and their families have called home for generations has not been easy. Many residents said since there was no time for them to arrange transport for their livestock and house pets, the animals are bound to starve to death following their departure. In addition to the 15 people forcibly taken away from their houses, authorities said they would return to the remote village today to remove the remaining 31 residents. Meanwhile, during his inspection tour of a disaster area in the central county’ s Kuohsin township yesterday, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung of the Executive Yuan told local residents that the government has set aside NT$480 million to help rebuild the region seriously damaged by last week’s killer typhoon. To ensure traffic on the only bridge linking the small town to the outside world would soon be resumed, Chang also instructed authorities to have all repair work for the typhoon-inflicted damage done by Wednesday. During the Premier’s tour of Nantou, county chief Pang Pai-hsien pleaded with him to help the local government tackle the formidable task of relocating residents living in the mudslide-prone areas. Pang said unless certain problems, such as housing and employment concerning those who are asked to move, could be first solved, it would be difficult for residents to uproot and relocate elsewhere.