Decreasing rainfall led to the reopening of Highway 18 in Alishan and the popular Alishan National Forest Recreation Area in Chiayi County, southern Taiwan yesterday.
After being closed for five days as a preventive measure to avoid disasters triggered by heavy downpours, Highway 18 between the 66km to 88km mark was reopened at 8am by the Directorate-General of Highways, the Forestry Bureau of Chiayi said. The recreation area was opened a while later at 10am.
The torrential rain did not cause any severe damage to the disaster-prone recreation area, the bureau said.
However, the Shenmu line — one of the three Alishan railway branch lines — will remain temporarily closed and services will only resume after the line passes a safety inspection, the bureau added. The total rainfall in Alishan Township (阿里山) amounted to only 58mm between midnight and 10am yesterday, less than the 133.5mm recorded in the coastal Chiayi township of Dongshih (東石).
The total amount of rainfall measured in Dongshih over the same period a day earlier was 209mm, the third-highest amount in Taiwan in the recent rainy period.
In related news, the Council of Agriculture said the agricultural damage from the heavy rain that has drenched parts of the country since Sunday had reached an estimated NT$483.99 million (US$16.18 million) as of 3pm yesterday.
Total crop damage came to approximately NT$291.53 million and the total affected area was about 12,611 hectares with a 16 percent damage rate, rendering 1,967 hectares of land unable to be harvested, the council said.
The most seriously affected crop was rice, with some 8,051 hectares of rice paddies being hit and suffering a 14 percent damage rate — which left an estimated 1,162 hectares of lands unable to be harvested, it said, adding that the cost of the ruined rice crop amounted to about NT$106.9 million.
Other crops that were seriously affected by the rain included watermelon, persimmon, leafy vegetables, papaya and tomatoes, it said.
Vegetable exports to Taipei were reduced by 1,325 tonnes (10.5 percent) yesterday and the average price for the produce was about NT$25 per kilogram (an increase of 5.7 percent), which was considered to be a reasonable increase, the council said.
According to the council’s statistics, the fishing industry incurred estimated losses of NT$83.32 million yesterday, mainly from the damage of 1,625 oysters cultivation racks in Chaiyi County’s Budai Township (布袋).
Other losses caused by the extreme rain included NT$92.38 million in ruined farmland, NT$10.67 million in lost livestock and poultry, NT$3.87 million in forestry losses and NT$1.5 million in damaged fishing equipment.