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County News
Turning Crisis Around and Going Beyond Recovery Magistrate Huang to Make Taitung More Advanced
Date: 2016-07-14    
“We’re fine and we’re ready.”
Taitung County Magistrate Justin Huang, Beinan Township Mayor Xu Wen-xian, and those in Taitung’s tourism industry welcome all to visit Taitung despite the recent typhoon. Huang stated that the face of Taitung City has almost been completely restored and that everyone is ready to put the tragedy behind them. A hot air balloon night glow concert and other related events will be held in the tourist hot spot of Zhiben on July 16 as an official announcement that Taitung has already gotten back on its feet and is ready for visitors.

By July 13, five days of reconstructive work had taken place since Typhoon Nepartak hit. Magistrate Huang held a press conference that day to report on the state of recovery and the subsidies offered to people for losses. He also spoke of plans for advancement to allow for improved response to natural disasters. A great number of people have put time and effort into working toward recovery. For example, Donghai Junior High School, the site of the nation’s civil service exams, sustained severe damage from the typhoon. Nonetheless, within just one day, the rooms to be used for the exams were completely cleaned and restored. Magistrate Huang thanked the military for making fulfilling their commitment to meeting the deadline. Minister of Examination Tsai Tsung-jen also expressed the sincerest of gratitude to the Taitung County Government and the military for accomplishing what seemed to be the impossible.

Water and electricity lines were for the most part repaired by July 12, and Taipower promised that everything would be back on line by the following day. In addition, 3,600 tons of debris from the typhoon were collected by July 13 from all over Taitung City, which is 12 times greater than the 60 tons/day of garbage that is normally put into the Jiannong Landfill. In response, the County Government opened up a separate site to discard fallen trees and branches. Magistrate Huang has called on people to do their best to sort their garbage and not place waste at the tree/branch site as that would only complicate the cleanup. Huang expressed hopes that disaster relief teams would finish their cleanup of Taitung City by the weekend at the latest.

With regard to the numerous relief measures, Magistrate Huang emphasized aspects of emergency relief dealing with homes, the agricultural/forestry/fishery/livestock industries, business loans, land tax credits, low income households, and families who have suffered from injury or death, stating that all will be taken care of with the greatest degree of convenience and sympathy possible. For instance, even though damage to a lot of homes is not so severe that the homes are uninhabitable, people will still be able to apply for reasonable amounts of compensation for damage sustained. Also, while it is true that those in the agricultural/forestry/fishery/livestock industries may apply for natural disaster subsidies, such subsidies are a far cry from actual losses. As a result, the County Government has sought out other channels to provide compensation. So far, declarations for 3,000 hectares of land (a monetary total of NTD 250 million) have been made. In addition, Magistrate Huang has requested that government offices in Taitung City, Taimali Township, and Beinan Township (three severely-affected areas) to begin issuing subsidies no later than next week. As for business loans, the County Government is providing 2-year loans at just 1% interest. And regarding land tax credits, besides state-owned land, credits will also be increased for county-owned land.

This crisis may be a turning point for Taitung. Even though the typhoon broke a century-old record for destruction, Magistrate Huang is still full of hope for the future and believes that the resulting reconstruction will make Taitung even better. For example, even though tens of thousands of trees (an important asset in Taitung) were lost, this has allowed the County Government to learn and think of better ideas for securing trees in the future. Moreover, innumerable business signs were torn down by the wind, exposing the flaws of the original construction, thus allowing the County Government to see how to design safer signs with better aesthetic. Finally, with the fall of countless electricity line poles, there is now the opportunity to move the lines underground.

The most popular of tourist attractions in Taitung, the hot air balloons, were grounded until July 13, causing severe losses for the accommodations, dining, and other tourist-related industries. Magistrate Huang believes that while doing all possible to recover and provide subsidies to disaster victims, Taitung cannot be expected to just stop everything else; it has to get back on its feet as soon as possible! He expressed hopes that the cleanup would be finished by Friday and looked forward to the hot air balloon event resuming this weekend. He has called on the people of Taitung to not only donate money and serve as volunteers, but also to offer the best form of encouragement by simply going out and doing tourist things. With the support of the Beinan Township mayor and those in the tourism industry, a night glow hot air balloon concert will take place on July 16 in Zhiben, not just as an expression of appreciation to all who are working toward Taitung’s recovery, but also as an official announcement that Taitung is already back on its feet!
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