&#91EDITORIALS&#93Lessons from Maemi

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[EDITORIALS]Lessons from Maemi

Damages caused by Friday’s Typhoon Maemi are mounting. While Typhoon Rusa last year caused more deaths, and more damage to agricultural areas, Maemi seems to have destroyed more infrastructure and public facilities. Maemi caused major paralysis of Korea’s infrastructure, toppling six of the seven 900-ton container cranes in Busan harbor, shutting down a nuclear plant, causing a major blackout and paralyzing part of the national railroad system. The force of Typhoon Maemi was greater even than that of the historical Typhoon Sara, which swept the peninsula in 1959.
We could blame the cruelty of nature and reproach the heavens. Or we could concentrate on repairing the damage and lessening the impact of future disasters. We should reflect on whether we hadn’t sufficiently prepared, despite advance warning, and improve any inadequacies in our warning and prevention system. With global temperatures rising every year, more typhoons and regional rainstorms are expected. Standards for harbors, power plants and transmission towers should be reinforced with reference to vulnerabilities discovered this time. The safety of the infrastructure untouched by Maemi should also be evaluated, and vulnerabilities amended.
Along with permanent damage-prevention measures on public facilities, a relief program that gives tangible help to the victims is urgently needed. The reason the Gangneung area in the Gangwon province, which was flooded heavily last summer, sustained heavy damage again was that the central government and the local autonomy groups had delayed support for restoration from last year. Last year’s flood victims in Gangneung area became victims of Maemi because the government delayed embankment restoration and housing projects for more than a year while haggling over the budget. Such a thing must not happen again. The procedure of distributing restoration fees only after assessment of the damages merely increases the victims’ suffering, and should be replaced with an “allot-first-adjust-later” system. Disaster relief should be carried out with primary consideration for the victims.

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