A Storm Update From Vietnam: The Schools from the Vietnam Chlidren’s Fund Survive!


2013-11-12 by Ed Timperlake

The largest storm on the globe slammed into the Philippines and the U.S. Military and many others are now helping a nation suffering.

It is important to understand the impact of typhoons in the Pacific.

I wrote in an earlier piece that:

“The question of how dangerous and violent is the Pacific was answered by Sir Francis Beaufort in the 19th Century in his code measuring storms at sea “The Beaufort Scale.”

After being wounded several times and commanding a Royal Navy ship of war Beaufort became Hydrographer of the Royal Navy for twenty-five years. In fact some of his charts are still used to this day.  Sir Francis was a visionary who specifically recognized the strategic importance of the entire Pacific and he also focused on the strategic importance of the Arctic.

His  “Beaufort Scale” runs from 1 to 12 with a Force 12 being “Hurricane Winds.” –“Huge waves and sea is completely white with foam and driving spray greatly reduces visibility”.

However, in 2006 the Peoples Republic of China adopted a scale that goes to a high of 17 to acknowledge what they saw as the power of a tropical cyclone off their shore known as a “Chinese Typhoon.”

Consequently, all ocean going mariners, from early explores on war canoes, to Chinese Junks, to European sailing vessels to modern battle fleets must have a very healthy respect for the pure raw power and also extremely significant distances involved with the Pacific Ocean.”

The graphic below provides some sense of the path and dynamics of this recent storm:

As super typhoon Haiyan charges toward Viet Nam, a view of the storm from space.
As super typhoon Haiyan charges toward Vietnam, a view of the storm from space.

After it hit the Philippines, the storm continued across South China Sea and hit Vietnam.

We were grateful to receive this current report from Vietnam about the status of the 48 schools built by the Vietnam Children’s Fund (VCF).

It is gratifying to see the construction was strong enough to come through with relatively minor damage.

The Lew Puller School in Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province.
The Lew Puller School in Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province.

The VCF has been a two-decade pro bono effort to reach out to the people of Vietnam.

The first school was dedicated to the late Lew Puller Jr who made the focus of the program to build schools.

For 20 years the Vietnam Children’s Fund has been building elementary schools in the most remote and desperate communities in Vietnam.  The organization, founded by Lew Puller, built the first school in his name in Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province.

We received this report from Sam Russell and Lan Vien providing us with an in-country update:

The brunt of the typhoon hit Quang Ninh and Hai Phong province.

Luckily on it’s way north the epicenter was off shore, which kept the damage to a minimum.  In most cases the people that died or were injured was because they were careless trying to strengthen their house before and during the storm.

Of course, there were many houses that had their roofs damaged but the good thing our schools were built to last so there was no damaged.  I have made several phone calls to our schools near the coast and below is the news from them.

1/ Pham Phu Thu school in Quang Nam province:  This school is in a flood zone but this time the storm mostly missed Quang Nam province.  There was no damaged or flooding.

2/ Xuan Lam school in Ha Tinh province: there was no damaged during the storm.  In general the school is still in good shape after 11 years since it was built, only the doors need to be repaired or replaced.

I remember once in the past it was a flood refuge for the village. It seems there are no more floods in this area. The teacher told me that in the past during a heavy rain the yard would flood up to 40cm (1’4”) in the schoolyard.

3/ Xuan Trung school in Nam Dinh province: no storm damaged. The teachers said they remembered to close all the windows and doors properly to minimize the damage during the storm.  

During last year’s typhoon there were some windows that broke and some trees that fell down.

Xuan Lam School in Ha Tinh Province.
Xuan Lam School in Ha Tinh Province.

4/ Our first school, the Lew Puller School in Dong Ha, Quang Tri province: no storm damaged. Only some tree branches were broken off.  During the typhoon, 3 storms ago, the toilet roof blew off but it was repaired.

5/ Dai Dong school in Hai Phong province: part of the roof tore off and the school has already fixed it.  70% of the glass in the widows were broken.  

Since the school was built in 2002 there has been no major damaged to the main structure but it needs maintenance so it looks old.  

The school yard level is now lower than the new road this causes it flood every time it rains.

 I have asked the school to send me some photos and the estimate for maintenance.

6/ Hoa Nghia school in Hai Phong province: is in good shape.  The locals have funded 16 more classrooms.  

The school is applying for National standard certification this year.

We are so happy that most our schools are in good shape even though most of these schools were built over 10 years ago.

For more information and how to donate the VCF visit the following:


The credit for the Typhoon photo is as follows: