The nation yesterday struggled to recover from the devastation caused by Typhoon Soudelor, with about 240,000 households nationwide still left without electricity as of press time last night.
The Central Weather Bureau lifted both sea and land warnings for Typhoon Soudelor at 8:30am yesterday after it moved toward China’s Fujian Province. Statistics from the Ministry of the Interior showed that the strongest typhoon the nation has faced this year killed seven people and left five missing.
The number of people injured during the typhoon had risen to 402.
Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said in a written statement said that work to restore power was restricted because either road access to disaster-stricken zones was cut off or power facilities were covered by fallen trees, adding that it had to wait for highway authorities and local governments to remove obstacles so that work could begin.
Taipower said that about 4.3 million households had experienced power failure on Saturday because of the typhoon, the highest number that the company had ever handled, adding that the number had dwindled to 236,980 by 7:16pm.
The National Airborne Service Corps was dispatched to airlift 13 people from the mountainous area in New Taipei City’s Wulai District (烏來) to receive medical treatment as the area remained cut off from the rest of the city because of severely damaged roads. Helicopters were also sent to deliver 700kg of food and other life-sustaining items to residents in the area. A photograph taken from an airborne helicopter showed that the river in Wulai had burst its banks.
Hot-spring pipelines on both sides of the river were destroyed by the flood.
The Directorate-General of Highways said that the section between Kueishan Bridge (龜山橋) and Wulai on the Highway No. 9 — the only way to reach Old Street in Wulai — suffered serious erosion of the roadbed, adding that reconstruction work can only be completed using heavy machinery. It estimated that Wulai would not be accessible to the general public until Sunday.
To assist the New Taipei City Government in rescuing people still trapped in Wulai, the Ministry of National Defense sent 36 members of the Army Special Combat Forces and four Hummers.
While the rest of the nation managed to weather the storm, clean water supply also became an issue.
Many supermarkets were sold out of bottled water as people finding tap water too turbid to use searched for cleaner alternatives.
The Taipei Water Department said that the turbidity of the water from the Sindian River (新店溪), which is a source of tap water, had at one point escalated to 30,000 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU), or five times more than the maximum capacity of the water treatment facility.
Though the turbidity had dropped to 4,500 NTUs, people are advised to boil water before drinking it, the department said.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport has had to deal with a huge backlog of flight passengers, as 366 flights were canceled on Saturday due to the arrival of the typhoon.
It said that 120,000 passengers were at the airport yesterday, which is equivalent to the volume that the airport saw during the Lunar New Year holiday. In addition, agricultural damage caused by Typhoon Soudelor was estimated at NT$600 million (US$18.9 million).
The government received a total of 23,953 disaster reports from the public. A total of 6,470 cases were related to fallen trees, which was the highest among all the other disaster categories.
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