Flash flood devastation in Son La Province. Photo: Viet Nam Red Cross Society

By Ly Nguyen, IFRC

Heeding flood warnings in Yen Bai province, Giang A Hu quickly moved his wife and two children to higher ground.  He then returned home to rescue the family’s greatest asset, their 15 pigs. But just as he was opening the cage, a fierce flash flood swept through his village, carrying away Hu, his home and his livestock.

Hu was one of 23 people killed in flash floods and landslides last week in Vietnam’s northwestern provinces of Yen Bai, Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau after days of ravaging torrential rains. Sixteen others remain missing and 21 are injured.  Authorities estimate that at least 228 houses collapsed or were swept away in this region, nearly 600 were damaged or unroofed and 657 billion Vietnam Dong or 28.9 million US dollars’ worth of crops, livestock and infrastructure were lost.

Relief supplies are distributed to families displaced by floods. Photo credit: Viet Nam Red Cross Society

Within a day of the flash floods, Viet Nam Red Cross Society teams in the affected provinces were coming to the assistance of stricken families.

With financial support, supplies and other help from the Viet Nam Red Cross Society headquarters, Red Cross teams in Yen Bai, Son La and Lai Chau began providing cash assistance, household supplies, tarpaulins, tools and materials to repair homes and temporary shelter.

VRCS’ Tran Thi Hong An comforts family of Giang A Hu, killed in recent flash floods. Photo credit: Viet Nam Red Cross Society

For those who lost loved ones, like Hu’s widow and children, the Viet Nam Red Cross is also offering comfort and emotional support.

“Families here are devastated, especially those who lost family members, homes and livelihoods,” said Tran Thi Hong An, Vice President, Viet Nam Red Cross Society headquarters who met with Hu’s family and others gravely impacted by the floods. “We will continue to coordinate with the governments of the affected provinces in order to provide appropriate support now and for long-term recovery.”

News reports indicate that many households in flood-inundated villages have still not been reached.