Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Musings on Morakot. Typhoon in Taiwan

I have been writing this blog throughout the day and as I write my wife has just returned from Tainan’s Chimei hospital where the less severe evacuees from her mountain village are being treated. The others are in Kaohsiung hospitals. Anyway, I’m too lazy to rewrite what I have been writing. I will just add what my wife has just told me after the little introduction.

Here is the introduction:

My wife is from Namasiya Township (previously San Ming) in Kaohsiung. We are building a small house on the land we bought in Ming Shen and usually are up there four days of the week. This Saturday the roads washed out and we couldn’t drive up. That proved lucky for us, but not for those stuck up

Everything seemed OK Saturday night, everyone in family accounted for (my wife has seven brothers and four sisters). Her younger brother Dahu’s house was washed away and most houses were flooded, but everybody was good.

dance 2

Then Sunday morning Alas’ sister called. She was fleeing up the mountain. Apparently, with the continued rain and houses washing away, they drove to the elementary school which is traditionally a safe refuge.  This time it wasn’t. their cars were flooded (washed away?) so they started uphill and called my wife asking if she could arrange a helicopter.  Here it gets kind of vague; they split in two groups and headed for a plateau/hut. And people were dying. I’m not sure when or how. Cold, age, washed away? kids

So our house in Tainan became a command center to get a helicopter to save them. But our village was not the only one in trouble. We still have no idea how many villages have been buried by this typhoon.  The biggest news to date has been ShiaoLin village in JiaShen. Pretty much washed away. I will leave the numbers to newspapers.


Ok, here is a synopsis of what my wife has just learned at the hospital. Ming Tzu was hit the worst. So far 20 some odd confirmed dead. Most of Alas’ family seems to be accounted for. The first person that we were told (via frantic and crackling telephone calls) was dead was the mayor’s wife.

They were running uphill from the coffee shop when she was swept away in a slide. The rest assumed she was dead. She had in fact gotten out of the slide and was struggling uphill on her own with a hurt leg and needing her medicine. Later she was spotted struggling across a moving slide and the local coach went down to help her up. If you have been following the news she was the first woman from Namasia being carried on someones back.DSC_8726Here is Ming Tzu a few years back.

I’ll just post a gallery here. I was going to explain all the pictures but they are pretty much Namasia and Jiashen after last years Typhoon Kalmaegi and this years Tamoko in Tainan:

Another frail old lady from Ming Tzu (now Nangisaluo) they talked to at the hospital was cooking in her kitchen at 10:00PM Saturday night when she heard rumbling. Water came in the door, then a crack, and she was in a mudslide. Everyone in the village was caught unawares, no screams or warning yells. just a big wall of mud and boulders. At seven the next morning she was  dug out and carried up to the plateau by villagers. As she was being carried another slide hit them and the village. They reached the plateau and cleaned the mud off with what cleanish water they could find.

On the plateau there where old and young with nothing to keep the elements from them. One woman had a month-old baby wrapped only in a rain coat.

Things are not yet under control. The ones left now presumably have supplies but are worried about being forgotten.

Our house (small apartment actually) will now become a refugee camp for some that have been evacuated to Tainan.

Ok, back to the original story:

All numbers we initially tried were busy. I called the Canadian Embassy on a friends advice. They were very helpful with information and numbers, but my in-laws in Namasiya were not Canadian. A friend who worked with the GIO contacted some helpful people, but in the end we just have to wait for the rescue process to take place.

I have been finding some old pictures of Namasiya etc. and will post them with some with notes below._RJM9527typhoon

Dahu, Landun and Daneevu after last years Typhoon Kalmaegi.This year his house is gone and Alas hasn’t heard from him yet. He wasn’t in his house when it went though, it was expected.


Cousins finish school. Carrying My son Vaji._RJM9543typhoon

Savi, Daneevu and Maidal play at Junior High School after Typhoon Kalmaegi.


San Ming (Namasia’s old name is well known for its tropical peaches.

_RJM2727Many villagers are hard working farmers and will have lost their crops. But not peaches, they have already been picked and sold.

_RJM6646I took this photo last week while driving up to Namasiya. This is a small village before Shiaolin. I hope they are ok.  There was a lovely dusk view of Shiaolin as I passed as well but I decided I would take it another time. Now it is gone._RJM9686typhoonThis was last year.  The villagers work to remove typhoon debris from their yards.   July 22nd, 2008_RJM9682typhoonI had always planned to do a photo essay of this quaint Pingpu village. Pingpu are not Han but they have been (sinified). Almost every traditional house had a family altar with kitchen god etc., which you don’t see so much in the cities nowadays. Also last years typhoon._RJM9674typhoonThis house on the northern edge of Shiaolin had mudslides go right through the house. It was left vacant after Kaelmagi._RJM3663Pictured here is an old lady my wife calls ‘granny’ doing a pingpu dance in Namasia a few months ago. My wife was very worried about her because she lives close to the river in Shiaolin. She was one of the first to be rescued from Shiaolin this morning. She was pulled out by helicopter in one of the more popular news repeats. We have been watching news for three solid days. I hate watching the news, but in the end their hotline numbers were the most useful in trying to get help to Namasiya._RJM5486Back to Namasia. This is the third village in. Ming Shen, now Takanua. It was split into villages one and two that you can see here when a typhoon took out the middle village many years ago. half the people moved up and the other half down. Not sure why they didn’t move together. Our house is outside the village on the flat land in the upper middle picture._RJM9982familyMing Chuan (now Maya) village. On the left at the top of the street is fourth brothers house. We have two of his kids here in the city and the other two are somewhere up there. Here is a video taken by a Namasiya teacher on Saturday:

They were all fine and accounted for then.  It has been raining for two solid days now, though.DSC_8210-12This is from up near the old village looking down on ming chuan and river valley._RJM9574typhoon_RJM5057_RJM1710_RJM0470_RJM0692


2 responses

  1. Michael

    My sister lives in Tainan – on Da Lin Road. I have not been able to get hold of her. Is everything OK in Tainan as most of the damage seems to have occurred up in the hills.

    Wish all well.

    August 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    • Hi Micheal,
      Tainan is pretty safe, there was just lots of water here. If you haven’t contacted her yet you can email me at

      August 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm

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