By Wednesday morning, residents of Trieu Phong District in Quang Tri Province had been surrounded by floodwaters for six days in a row.
Flood levels have risen, then receded repeatedly for three times, which is enough to drive the locals’ morale to fatigue.
However, the circumstance has yet to reach an end: water levels remain high while torrential rains are still pouring in upstream areas.
Residents in the vulnerable locales of Quang Tri, located in central Vietnam, have to brace themselves to hold their ground against nature’s wrath.
|Phung Xuan Phuc, a child in Trieu Phong District of Quang Tri Province, eats raw instant noodles in his flooded house. Photo: Quoc Nam / Tuoi Tre|
Living off instant noodles
The walls of Phung Tan Ky’s house in Phu My Kien Village of Trieu Giang Province have turned yellowish as it had been inundated for too long.
By Wednesday, his house had still been one-meter deep in the opaque floodwaters.
He pointed to a dirt trace on the wall indicating the peak water level in his house over the past six days. That mark came from the third wave of flooding on Monday, which surpassed the previous highs of the last two waves on October 7 and October 9, he added.
For the last six days, Ky, his wife and their three children have had to move to the mezzanine as the water already submerged the ground floor. With no electricity, running water or a boat to travel, they can only sit and watch while floodwater creeps up the building.
At breakfast time, Ky asked his wife to bring out five packets of instant noodles and distribute one to each member in the family. With no way to boil water, they had no choice but to munch on the bricks of raw noodles.
At this point, Ky’s children were too fed up with this dish that they had to return half of their portion to the father.
According to Ky, his family has moved to the mezzanine since the first wave of inundation hit on October 8. In preparation for the flood, the family have stocked a few boxes of instant noodles, but none could have expected the catastrophe to draw out for as long as six days.
“There was no electricity during the six days of flooding. The space on the roof is barely enough for five people, so we can’t cook anything. There is no other choice,” Ky explained.
By the fourth and fifth day, he mulled over leaving home in search of a decent meal with rice for the family. Yet no progress was made since the closest food stall is a kilometer away, and to go there is too risky as the water remains neck-deep.
Apart from some that have been evacuated prior to the flood, dozens of other households in Ky’s neighborhood are facing the same fate, where persistent flooding makes instant noodles the only food source available to them.
Clinging to their bed
During the days being surrounded by water, nothing seems to be more dreadful to residents in Hai Lang District of Quang Tri Province than the erratic development of flood levels. Their fear heightens immensely during the pitch-black nighttime as there are no electricity lights available.
Ho Thanh Tra, a 56-year-old man in Hai Lang District, and the other six members of his family have been struggling to stay afloat on a bed placed atop four chairs for the past week.
|Ho Thanh Tra’s daughter cooks in a flooded house. Photo: Doan Nhan / Tuoi Tre|
At lunchtime, Ly Thi Le Thao, Tra’s wife, wrapped a mat over the soaking pillows to make room for the dishes.
The family have run out of rice for four days, leaving instant noodles from the aid package their last resort.
Every other foodstuff, from green bananas from a snapped tree to a few cups of rice sent by a neighbor, is much appreciated by Tra’s household in this situation.
All daily routines, including hygiene activities, of seven people are restricted to the space of the elevated bed.
Near the family, a boat is used to store rainwater for daily use. Despite being cleaner than floodwater, rainfall is still not totally trusted in terms of hygiene.
“I had to wait for impurities and dirt to sink to the bottom before using [the rainwater],” Thao said.
|Ly Thi Le Thao cooks in her flooded house. Photo: Doan Nhan / Tuoi Tre|
The boat is also considered the life-or-death item for the family. If the bed is also submerged, the family will move into the boat, Tra envisaged.
Recalling past floods, Thao told the stories of people in her commune who died from trying to save poultry and cattle, or the kids who fell off their bed and were swept away to the water.
For that reason, she cannot take her eyes off the family's children.
The family have clung to their bed for five nights straight. Tra could not sleep well in any of them, as the slightest sound of rain agitated him.
“Looking after the children and observing water levels were enough for me to stay wide awake,” Tra said.