[EDITORIALS]Disaster plans are brokenTyphoon Megi, fortunately, left not great damage in the peninsula. But a review of the areas damaged by the typhoon still showed our poor system of coping with natural disasters. Some areas in Gangneung suffered from the same flood damage for three consecutive years, following the hit by Typhoon Rusa of 2002 and Typhoon Maemi last year. Before the recovery work was finished, another flood hit the area, and the victims have been suffering hardships repeatedly. Why does this happen?
According to a report by the National Assembly Budget Office, the government hurriedly prepared a supplementary budget, expanding the natural disaster funds by 3 trillion won ($2.6 billion). The government said it was to speed up the recovery work. But only 16 percent of the 3.7 trillion won of funds were spent before the end of last year. The government said the budget was spent according to the progress of constructions, but that is hard to understand. We could see more damage from the typhoons still expected this season.
After a disaster occurs, the government usually spends 30 days drawing up plans. More time is spent on contracting, hindering timely recovery work. For emergency recovery projects, we should establish a system to make a contract with estimates and then settle the actual amount after the construction is done.
The central and local governments are passing the buck over the management of small rivers, which flood chronically. That is absurd. Just because there is a budget, reckless construction work was done, ignoring the distinctive features in nature in the damaged regions. Such bad practices must be stopped. Two years ago, artificial structures were built to prevent floods in Gangwon, but they narrowed the width of rivers, increasing the flood damage during last year’s typhoon season. The National Emergency Management Agency, established in June, must do its job.
Evasion of compensation to victims is also a serious problem. We have heard repeated news about public servants receiving bribes from contractors and colluding with local residents to exaggerate the damage and make false reports of damage. Under such a lamentable condition, it is impossible to carry out proper recovery work. The government must perform comprehensive surgery on this ailing flood recovery system.