Repeated dyke breaks destroy apricots and hopes of a happy Tet

TN News

Email Print

Hundreds of families on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City won’t be able to enjoy Tet this year after a broken dyke flooded their houses and apricot gardens early Saturday.

Apricots trees are the traditional decorative plant for the Tet Lunar New Year Festival, which falls in mid-February this year, and the families made a living growing the gardens for sale during the holiday season.

“I woke up at around 4a.m. to do some exercise and I heard water flowing rushing by in the alley. I opened my door the water then spread over my floor,” said Tran Van Tho, a resident in Hiep Binh Phuoc Ward, Thu Duc District.

Tho said Saturday was the third time in three months that high tides combined with a broken dyke had damaged the residential area along the Da (Rock) Canal.

Nguyen Nam Hai, vice chairman of Hiep Binh Phuoc Ward, said the dyke was fixed after the floods on Saturday, but he warned that it could break again as parts of it were made only out of soil.

Local resident Le Van Luan said the water level on Friday night was not very high. “But when I placed my feet on the floor in the morning, I knew it had happened again.”

Luan lost a laptop and a refrigerator to the flood but it’s his apricot garden that the family will miss the most.

For ten years, Luan had been growing the trees to sell every year at Tet, but he said the recent damage was irreparable.

Nguyen Huu Nghia, whose apricot garden was one-third submerged by the floods, said he had no idea how he would now repay a VND20 million (US$1,083) bank loan due in May.

His garden is home to 3,500 trees nearly eight years old.

Nghia said he had to put long hours and lots of expensive fertilizer after similar floods in November submerged his plants for four days.

“When the trees were green again, I was so happy because I thought that I would have a lot to sell for Tet.”

After a few days soaking in the deluge, Nghia’s plants had shed their leaves and blossomed.

“No one will buy a blooming apricot tree,” he said.

Most Vietnamese people in the south decorate their houses with apricot trees during Tet while those in the north use peach trees.

People buy trees with as many un-blossomed flower buds as possible in hopes that they will bloom on the holiday.

Tran Ngoc Hong said there was no hope for his more than 1,000 apricot trees, which were 5 years old and all waterlogged.

Hong said he had lost VND20 million when floods in November killed another 1,000 trees that he had just planted.

“We chose apricots to make a living, we cannot quit,” said another gardener who wished no to be named. “We just hope the government can speed up dyke construction so that we won’t have to worry every time we hear of high tides.”

Ho Viet Xoa, who lives near the broken dyke, said “If only a concrete dyke had been built all along the canal, we wouldn’t have to suffer such misery.”

Xoa said three years ago, local residents each gave VND300,000-350,000 to build a dyke “because we could no longer stand the floods.”

But the money was just enough to build 60 meters of concrete, while the other parts had to be made of soil, sand bags or other cheap materials.

Source: Tuoi Tre

More Society News