Tsai visits typhoon-hit Taitung, islands

CHANGE OF HEART::A source at the Presidential Office said that Tsai originally did not intend to visit the areas, a decision which was criticized by Taitung County residents

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Jul 11, 2016 - Page 1

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday made a surprise visit to areas devastated by Typhoon Nepartak in Taitung County, including Green Island (綠島) and Orchid Island (蘭嶼, also known as Lanyu).

“The typhoon was huge, but our determination to stand with the people of Taitung is even bigger,” Tsai said on Facebook, sharing pictures from her trip. “The islands may stand alone in the ocean, but they are not really alone. The nation is not divided by the Central Mountain Range and there is no difference between the west and the east. As long as people are suffering, they will feel that the government is there with them.”

Tsai promised the typhoon victims that she would closely follow the government’s efforts to help them recover as quickly as possible, with sufficient resources.

She said that all government institutions, from the local governments to various central government agencies and the military, are ready to help Taitung.

Tsai’s trip came at short notice. It was announced yesterday morning by Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) just a few hours before Tsai’s arrival on Lanyu at 2pm.

Huang said Tsai visited Lanyu first because she wanted to draw attention to a place that is less noticed by the public.

A report filed by online news outlet Storm Media on Saturday cited an anonymous source at the Presidential Office saying that Tsai originally did not intend to visit the affected areas to avoid interrupting recovery efforts. That decision drew criticism from Taitung County residents after the report was published.

After visiting Lanyu and Green Island, Tsai proceeded to Homei Village in Taimali Township (太麻里), which took the brunt of Nepartak when it made landfall early on Friday morning with winds of more than 200kph and torrential rain.

Tsai also visited the Taitung disaster prevention center for a briefing on losses and damage caused by the typhoon, according to the Presidential Office.

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) visited Taitung County on Saturday, promising the government would donate NT$800 million (US$24.8 million) for recovery efforts.

According to Ministry of Education data, 201 schools across the nation were damaged by the typhoon, including 48 in Taitung, 59 in Pingtung County and 43 in Kaohsiung.

The total loss incurred by educational institutions was estimated at NT$130 million, with Taitung sustaining the heaviest losses at NT$120 million, the data showed.

Additional reporting by CNA