14 August 2009

Typhoon Morakot's Destruction

The recent typhoon that struck Taiwan has caused a lot of damage to the island, mainly to the south, as it hit Taiwan and headed NE to China and Japan.

Taipei and most of Northern and Western Taiwan were spared the bulk of the wild weather, but they did receive a lot of rain.  Central Taiwan was mainly ok, although Alishan seems to have been hit pretty hard.  A lot of people are still trapped in various pockets where heavy rains and mudslides washed away roads and bridges.  I was watching a broadcast from a Taiwan news channel last night and it doesn't seem like the government has enough resources or equipment to help everyone.  Taiwan's government just requested some heavy lifting helicopters and industrial equipment from the international community, and the US military should already have arrived with supplies and support.

I called my teachers earlier this week to see how they were doing.  My Dong Ding master's wife puzzled me during the first few minutes of our conversation - she seemed completely fine, like nothing had happened.  I anxiously requested the status of her health/husband's health/family/home and she said everything was fine on the mountain and "very beautiful."  But those weren't her first words - all she could keep asking me when I called was, "When are you coming back?"  Ha!  I told her I wasn't calling all the way from the US to set up a travel schedule, I was worried that she had been washed off of the mountain!  She said it was nice for me to be concerned, but I didn't need to worry.  She also said the tea is good, and I didn't need to worry about that either.

Dong Ding is in Nantou county, though, and not too far away from Alishan.  Alishan had a lot of rain and destruction.  There was one story about a quick-acting tribal chief in a remote village on Alishan that got all of his villagers together and packed them into the tribal lodge to get away from the typhoon.  The village was destroyed, but the government commended him for responsible leadership that saved the villagers. 

The tea crop of high mountain oolong from Alishan may be limited this year, and the massive rains may have caused damage and affect the quality for a season or two.  There hasn't been an extraordinary crop from Alishan for several seasons, and I don't think that we'll see one anytime soon.

In the meantime, Taiwan is still dealing with the aftermath of the typhoon.  Thousands have died, thousands more are missing, and tens of thousands are stranded with few supplies.  The destruction in Taiwan is the worst from a typhoon in decades.  The government recently announced the acceptance of donations to help with the recovery effort.  You can visit the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office's site to view instructions on how to send donations via wire to their recovery fund. 

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