Amid a barrage of criticism over Tuesday’s delayed announcement of work and class cancelations because of torrential rain in Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市), President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday instructed the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) to provide a 4am forecast to help local governments decide when to announce cancelations.
With a 4am forecast, local governments should be able to make announcements by 5:30am, so that the public would be notified before leaving home, Ma said.
“We did a pretty good job in evacuating residents in disaster-hit areas, and closing roads and bridges to prepare for the torrential rain this time. However, local governments should be faster and more precise in deciding whether to cancel work and class. I think the situation with torrential rain is harder to predict than typhoons, as there can be heavy accumulated rainfall in a very short time,” Ma said as he presided over a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee.
The committee had invited Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Sheng-chung (林聖忠) to present a report on the government’s handling of disasters in the wake of the nationwide flooding and mudslides.
The rain has caused six deaths and injured four people since it hit the nation over the weekend. Statistics from the Central Emergency Operation Center showed flooding in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan County, Hsinchu County and Pingtung County. About 5,000 people in nine cities and counties were evacuated.
The Taipei and New Taipei City governments came under fire for not announcing work and class cancelations until after 10am.
Ma, a former Taipei mayor, said the situation in Taipei and New Taipei City was more complicated, because the stock market, financial institutions and factory operations needed to be taken into consideration when deciding whether to cancel work and school.
He also suggested that local governments encourage their residents to install floodgates in front of their homes to help prevent flooding. The central government would provide local governments with subsidies to help residents install floodgates, he said.