Storm Noru kept millions of people in the central region up all night, fearful of the howling wind and what it could do to their homes.
At midnight on Tuesday Hoang Nhung’s family, friends and others people who knew her kept texting her asking, “Are you safe?”
The student in Da Nang City did not have to evacuate since the eight-room building where she lives in Thanh Khe District is solidly built.
Her landlord had sent her a text message telling her to stay home until the storm blew over.
But Cam Le, Nhung’s friend living in a dilapidated building in Ngu Hanh Son District, had to take refuge in a storm shelter.
By 11 p.m. Nhung had received a lot of texts saying things like “My neighbor’s corrugated iron roof was blown off by a gust” and “A boat sank below Thuan Phuoc bridge,” while friends updated their location on an online group.
A boy reaches a storm shelter with his family in Quang Ngai Province, Sept. 27, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh
Around the same time, she could hear the sound of the strong wind shaking the door of her basement garage downstairs.
Her neighbor’s roof had just been blown off.
During her four years in Da Nang, this was the second major storm she had witnessed after Storm Molave in October 2020.
She says the entire city has been ruined within one night with uprooted trees and roofs lying everywhere on the streets.
“I’ve been through many storms in my life, but the weather appears to be getting more unusual every year, and the latest storm is much worse than the previous one.”
The Quang Nam Border Guard Command headquarters in Tam Ky Town was lit up all night and served as an evacuation point for 500 people in Tam Thanh Commune.
Many individuals did not sleep that night, instead reading the news to stay up to date with the storm reports.
People stay up late reading news about storm Noru, one of the strongest storms to hit Vietnam in the last two decades, at a shelter in Tam Thanh Commune, central Binh Thuan Province, on Sept. 27, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
Of the five people in Vo Thi Xuan’s family, four moved to safer places while her son stayed at a neighbor’s so that if things went wrong, he could rush back to save their boat.
The 64-year-old Xuan was also worried about how their dilapidated home would cope and the ashes of her relatives kept there. She had rushed out in the afternoon and did not have time to take away the ashes.
She could only hope the storm did not blow them away.
Ngo Thi Lai’s family of 11 people of four generations evacuated to the storm shelter at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Two years ago their dilapidated house was severely damaged by Storm Molave.
So this time they were apprehensive and decided to evacuate early this year after hearing Storm Noru would be even stronger than the last one.
Her husband, a fisherman, returned from the sea three days earlier.
The family could not sleep Tuesday night when the rain pounded on the roof like a giant drum.
The lights were on all night in the storm shelter at Thuan An Secondary School in Hue Town’s Thuan An Ward.
It was dark and raining hard outside, and the wind was howling. Women and old people were huddled in classrooms and looking out to see where the wind was coming from with nervous looks on their faces.
On mats in the middle of the floor, kids were asleep.
Kieu Diem, who lives nearby, said she ate a bowl of instant noodles that afternoon, packed things and evacuated with her two children. Her husband stayed back to keep watch of their house and things.
Diem could not sleep because she was worried about her husband, and called him a few times to check on him and see what was going on at home.
“Though I am tired, I will stay awake tonight.”
Many other evacuees at Thuan An Secondary School shared similar concerns.
They had moved quickly to flee from the storm that afternoon and did not have time to move their chickens and ducks to higher ground though they were afraid the water would rise and wash them away.
The storm made landfall at 1 a.m. on Wednesday. The maximum wind speed recorded was 133 kph in Da Nang and Quang Ngai.
At 5:30 a.m. Wednesday power was cut in many localities affecting 555,000 families in Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces, Ly Son Islands off Quang Ngai, parts of Da Nang City and Thua Thien-Hue Province, and many communes in the Central Highlands provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum.
Experts believe Noru is comparable with Typhoon Xangsane, which hit Da Nang and Quang Nam in September 2006, and Typhoon Ketsana, which hit Quang Nam and Quang Ngai in September 2009.
The government is geared to evacuate around 868,000 people.
No deaths have been reported so far.
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