Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The scars of Typhoon Morakot

The single house that was spared in the Siaolin landslide
More than three years on, areas devastated by Typhoon Morakot see little sign or rehabilitation 

As millions of Taiwanese hit the road, took the high-speed rail or flew home to celebrate the Lunar New Year last week, one area of Taiwan had nothing festive about it: Three years on, many parts of Greater Kaohsiung devastated by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009 continue to bear the scars of nature’s fury and government inattention. 

Traveling the area, one is struck by how little has changed since Morakot, the most damaging Typhoon to hit Taiwan in decades, swept through southern parts of the nation, causing billions of dollars in damage and killing as many as 700 people.

Most roads around Siaolin Village (小林) and Namasiya Township (那瑪夏) remain unpaved, making it very difficult for vehicles to drive around and subjecting visitors to unbearable dust clouds. In Siaolin, a single, forlorn house that by pure luck was spared in a landslide that killed hundreds, remains defiantly. Underneath the heavy canopy of rocks lie the remains of bodies never uncovered, a reminder of our powerlessness against the forces of nature. The area is filled with dry rivers filled with rocks, crushed roads and tunnels, and the sundry remnants of man-made objects pulverized by a much greater force. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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