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Towards a History of Climate Disasters in Taiwan: the Case Study of the 87 Flood in PDF

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Towards a History of Climate Disasters in Taiwan: the Case Study of the 87 Flood in 1959 Ya-wen Ku Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica Documentary file of 87 flood 多難興邦
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Towards a History of Climate Disasters in Taiwan: the Case Study of the 87 Flood in 1959 Ya-wen Ku Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica Documentary file of 87 flood 多難興邦 An aerial view of a flooded area Rainfall distribution on 8/7, 1959 Flooded areas Houses damaged or coliapsed Persons injured or dead Government's explanations and response a natural disaster is difficult to prevent The government's explanations natural disaster man-made disaster in Mainland China unstable dikes built during the colonial period The government's responses mobilized troops and people to perform disaster relief and reconstruction work declared the Presidential Emergency Decree, in order to restore the economy News from Central Daily News Disaster relief and reconstruction work Public reaction to the August 7 flood People accepted the officials statement regarding natural disaster They were grateful to the government s efforts of disaster relief and reconstruction Koa-a of 87 flood disaster Opposing voices: man-made disaster Some statements in the newspapers implied that the government may have covered up the truth and passed the blame. 50% of the disaster was man-made. government neglected the importance of water and soil conservation government permitted or encouraged the cultivation of sugarcanes along riverbeds Government didn t dredge the river or protect the dikes Questions Did flood control concepts, technologies and policies different in different historical periods of Taiwan? What was the public s response or attitude regarding flooding and flood control? How did a huge disaster such as the August 7 flood change the thoughts of the people and the government? Traditional Response to flood & water control A story of flood control in 1881 the governor of Fujian Province Cen, Yu-Ying 岑毓英 raised lots of gold and gathered thousands of laborers to build a levee along Dajia River. local intellectuals comments : just like throwing tens of millions of gold to the sea the river control projects in Taiwan under Qing Dynasty depended on local officials or elites. most of the Taiwanese people regarded flood as an uncontrollable force. They were aware of the difference environment between Taiwan and Mainland China, and revered Taiwan s natural environment. Development of modern water control concepts and technologies Japan after Meiji Restoration 1880s, low-water engineering (ensure smooth shipping) high-water river engineering (defend flood) three water control laws: River Law(1896), Erosion Control Act(1897), Forest Act(1897) Colonial Taiwan (1895~1945) In 1910, the colonial government began to draw up a budget to investigate the hydrology of nine major rivers. Japanese technicians tried to find engineering methods applicable to the environment of Taiwan Since 1916, systematic water control projects had been successively carried out The concept of water and soil conservation forest was introduced to Taiwan. Hydrology survey and water control projects of Major Rivers of Taiwan, Water control policy 1913, Regulations on River Management 1928, River Act 1933 ~ 1936, Flood Defense & Preparation Rules. Local officials and police were tasked to call on people to form Antiflood team and conduct drills at least once a year Places where flood drill was practiced during Public attitude toward flood & embankment Until 1930s, more than 160 petitions were submitted, urging the Governor-General to permit the construction of dykes or providing technological and financial supports. Half of petitions were submitted by people who lived where the flood couldn t reach before the dikes were built. The construction of dikes enabled more people to enter areas of higher flood risk, and triggered flooding in originally safe areas. People in these areas had no choice but to seek protection from the government. Many local officials and elites in 1930s criticized that the residents along the river had neither the awareness of embankment protection nor a sufficient understanding of the river. The concepts of flood control and taming of natural water environment wasn t adopted by all Taiwanese society. The tradition way of thinking lasted until early post-war period. Flood control policy in the early post-war period Faced with entirely different rivers and environment, the government followed Japanese survey and planning, focusing on embankment construction, in order to ensure grain output. Due to the slow increase in arable land compared to the rising population, the government also encouraged people to reclaim public riverbed lands for rice or sugarcane planting, or to develop hillside lands. As a result, the intellectuals, who had been familiar with the concepts of water and soil conservation since colonial period, strongly aired their criticisms on the phenomenon. Impact of the August 7th. flood In 1961, Bureau of Mountain Agriculture and Animal Husbandry was established, in order to prevent the exploitation of hillsides and promote development. In April, 1964 Huang Jie 黃杰, the chairman of the Taiwan Provincial Government published his famous article Mountain Management and Flood Prevention and made it the priority of the water control policy. People s new belief: Man can Conquer Nature, Great Disaster Makes a Country Stronger. Conclusion This paper discusses the change of people s response to the flood as well as the government s water control policies in different historical periods. Disasters do not only reveal the past, but also change the future. In this respect, disasters play the roles of both revealer and initiator .
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