TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – After alerts for heavy rain were issued for southern Taiwan, Tropical Storm Danas arrived on Friday (July 19), hitting Kaohsiung and Tainan with a rapid, record-breaking rainfall in just over two hours.
Several neighborhoods in Kaohsiung suffered serious flooding as a result, which stalled transportation in parts of the city. Many Kaohsiung residents on Friday night and Saturday morning blasted Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) for what they see as an inadequate response to the problem.
After attending a disaster assessment meeting in the late afternoon, the mayor of Kaohsiung left to enjoy a lavish dinner hosted by the Kaohsiung City Dining Occupation Labor Union (高雄市餐飲職業工會), reports Liberty Times. As the city experienced flooding, Han was recorded drinking and laughing, seemingly unconcerned with the city's infrastructure.
By late evening, netizens were already posting photos of Han having dinner at the Lin Palace restaurant alongside photos of his previous electoral opponent, Chen Chi-Mai (陳其邁). Chen, who is the vice premier and current Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson, was wearing a poncho outside in the downpour, working with a disaster assessment team at a city pump station.
Chen Chi-Mai (L) and Han Kuo-yu (R) during the downpour July 19 (Photos from Social Media)
Han’s lack of a response sparked anger among many netizens, who made comments like “If you don’t want to act as mayor, then please resign.” Han’s reputation as the Kaohsiung mayor has been rapidly deteriorating, with a considerable number of residents pursuing a mayoral recall, hoping to call a new election and force Han from office.
The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) noted that six weather stations in the Kaohsiung area recorded over 100 mm of rainfall in the short period, which was more that Kaohsiung's drainage systems were capable of supporting, reports UDN. Kaohsiung’s drainage systems in the affected areas are only capable of managing a maximum of 60 mm of rainwater per hour.
Kaohsiung flooded street, July 19 (CNA photo)
Despite criticism leveled at Mayor Han Kuo-yu and his seemingly inadequate response, experts have warned that if such rapid and heavy rainfall were to occur in any Taiwanese city, there would likely be similar problems of flooding.
However, on Saturday (July 20), Han once again failed to promote his image as a mayor committed to his duties when he failed to show up for an 8:00 a.m. working meeting of the Kaohsiung City Council to address the flooding in the city, reports the Liberty Times.
The official report from the Kaohsiung Mayor’s Office was instead delivered by Deputy Mayor Lee Shu-chuan (李四川), leading some observers to speculate that Han may have perhaps enjoyed himself too much at the Lin Palace banquet the previous night.
EDIT 7/23: This article previously misreported the figures on records of rainfall in Kaohsiung and Taiwan. The author apologizes for the mistake and thanks our internet readers for pointing out the incorrect reporting.