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Good Samaritans flock south to help flood victims

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Marines help clean up a road damaged by Typhoon Hinnamnor in Pohang, Monday. Yonhap
Marines help clean up a road damaged by Typhoon Hinnamnor in Pohang, Monday. Yonhap

Volunteers feed displaced locals; marines, police and firefighters clean up typhoon-damaged region during Chuseok holiday

By Lee Yeon-woo

This year's Chuseok holiday, which continued from Friday to Monday, was one of the worst in recent memory for those who live in the southern regions. The four-day long weekend came right after the nation's southern coastal areas were hit hard by Typhoon Hinnamnor on Sept.

North Gyeongsang Province is one of the regions that was devastated by the major natural disaster.

Amid the despair gripping local residents displaced by the super typhoon, there were those who also went to help

Volunteers from all over the country arrived there during the Chuseok holiday and rolled up their sleeves to help the flood victims. These Good Samaritans sacrificed their own holidays to help those in dire need, working closely with the local governments in their rescue and restoration efforts.

As of Monday, around 35,000 people have participated in helping restore the area and supporting the flood victims. The number includes 6,640 volunteers and 18,337 soldiers, 3,320 firefighters, 502 police officers and various members of civic organizations, according to North Gyeongsang Province.

After Hinnamnor wreaked havoc on the southern region on Sept. 5, volunteers from all over the country went down to the area, cleaning away mud and picking up trash and other debris for a week. Some prepared meals for flood victims and some even brought their washing machines to share with other volunteers.

Firefighters helped drain the flooded factories of steelmaker POSCO, and special forces members who flew to Pohang Gyeongju Airport by helicopter helped throw away destroyed heavy home appliances such as refrigerators.

"We forgo our Chuseok holiday to put our best efforts into restoring the damaged areas. I hope our work will help the flood victims go back to their daily lives as soon as possible," Song In-ki, the president of the Republic of Marine Corps Veterans Association in North Gyeongsang Province, who volunteered in cleaning up the seashore, said Monday.

Civil servants from the local government also visited flooded regions and checked whether there were any inconveniences for the victims or other volunteers. On Chuseok day itself, Pohang City prepared food and ritual tables so that the displaced victims could honor their ancestors together.

Volunteers prepare meals for flood victims in a residential area in Pohang, Friday. Yonhap
Volunteers prepare meals for flood victims in a residential area in Pohang, Friday. Yonhap

North Gyeongsang Province announced that 3,933 out of 8,016 flooded spots ― such as apartment complexes, buildings, factories and roads ― had been cleaned up and recovered, marking a 49-percent recovery rate approximately.

However, more help recovering residential areas is needed as most of the already-restored sites have been concentrated in public facilities such as roads and bridges. The mayor of Pohang, which has suffered the worst damage across the country, asked Tuesday for more volunteers. The city estimated the amount of damage to be 2 trillion won ($1.45 billion).

"I sincerely thank the volunteers and soldiers who put their best efforts into repairing the damage despite the Chuseok holiday. To be able to return to our daily lives as soon as possible, we need more attention and help from volunteers nationwide in typhoon recovery efforts," Pohang Mayor Lee Kang-deok said.

One of the residents living in southern Pohang's Daesong Township expressed worry about the potential damage caused by even more upcoming typhoons and rains.

"I am getting strength and hope from the volunteers, soldiers and civil servants' devotion. However, we need more help and support from the government to prepare for the rainy season in autumn and potential typhoons in the future. We need to rebuild river levees and flooded housing."

Lee Yeon-woo

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