Torrential rainfall brought by Tropical Storm Kong-Rey caused severe flooding in central and southern Taiwan yesterday, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate and disrupting transportation.
Statistics from the Central Emergency Operation Center, as of 8pm yesterday, showed that 2,627 people in Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, Yilan County and Hualien County had been evacuated, with 546 taking refuge in shelters.
One person in Greater Tainan was injured after falling off a motorcycle yesterday morning.
Flooding was reported in 87 areas in Chiayi city and county, and another 53 locations in Nantou, Yunlin and Pingtung counties, as well as Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung.
Although the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) on Wednesday warned that extreme torrential rainfall could occur in central and southern Taiwan, the deluge still caught local governments in the two regions off guard.
The Yunlin County, Chiayi city and county, Greater Tainan, Pingtung County and Greater Kaohsiung governments made last-minute announcements yesterday morning canceling work and school for the rest of the day.
Television reports showed residents in Greater Tainan and Chiayi County waiting to be rescued on the second story or top floor of their houses because the ground floor was already flooded. Anxious parents fetched their children from school and complained that the local governments had been slow to respond to the emergency.
In Yunlin County’s Dounan Township (斗南), rescuers helped 36 senior residents in a nursing home to evacuate. More than 300 people were trapped by the flood in Hong Wa Yao (紅瓦窯) for more than 10 hours before rescuers sent in food and water supplies.
An angry man yelled at Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) when he inspected Sinhua District (新化), saying Lai should have canceled work and school earlier.
Lai apologized to the public on his Facebook page about the inconvenience, saying the city government’s decision on Wednesday evening that work and school should continue as normal yesterday was made based on information provided by the weather bureau.
“The forecast from the CWB up until 10am on Thursday did not meet the conditions for suspending work and school. The satellite cloud chart also showed that the rain clouds had moved to Chiayi and Yunlin. Our observation further showed that the rain had eased by 5am yesterday,” Lai wrote.
However, he said the forecast from the bureau at 10am yesterday listed Greater Tainan as one of the areas under an extreme torrential rainfall alert after the rain clouds moved south again. The city government then decided to cancel work and classes, he said.
The bureau lifted its land and sea warning for Kong-Rey at 5:30pm and 8:30pm respectively yesterday after the storm moved away from Taiwan and headed toward Japan.
However, the bureau cautioned that heavy rainfall would continue on the west coast.
Although the tropical storm had passed, bureau forecaster Lo Ya-yin (羅雅尹) said heavy rainfall would continue as the nation would come under the influence of a southwesterly wind today.
The likelihood of showers or thundershowers remains high in central and southern Taiwan today, Lo said.
The weather would remain unstable over the weekend because of the arrival of the first frontal system this fall, she added.