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After Each Flood, Hoi An Picks Itself up, Just Like It Has Always Done

Every year, Vietnam braces for dozens of tropical storms coming from the East Sea. Localities along the coast in central Vietnam have to bear devastating destruction caused by Mother Earth whenever serious typhoons make landfall.

Hoi An Ancient Town is usually smack-dab in the trajectory of stormy systems, experiencing extended bouts of rain and deluges from upstream. When the water level of the Thu Bon River rises, charming alleys and streets are inevitably submerged in opaque floodwater.

Due to its low-lying location, prolonged rain can easily cause flooding in Hoi An.

The work, however, isn’t done when the water recedes, as flooding leaves behind layers of sludge caked on thoroughfares across Hoi An. A rarely mentioned but crucial factor contributing to the town’s quick recovery post-flood is maintenance workers who pour into local streets to clear up debris and sediment using everything from traditional tools like shovels and rakes to huge tanker trucks.

A sanitation worker clears debris from a sewer opening so water can drain faster.

It’s likely that Hoi An’s freshly washed street networks won't stay pristine for long, as heavy showers and inundation could return at any time, but such is life in the ancient town, and Hoi An residents can’t bear to see their beloved home blemished by mud even for one day.

Leaves and dirt form a layer on local streets.

Workers join forces to direct floodwater towards the drainage.

Preparing a hose to spray the street down.

Tanker trucks are deployed to help wash down the asphalt.

You know that recovery is truly on the way when the street cafes are open again.

The streets are clean once again, but the river is still high.

Darkroom is a Saigoneer series documenting the beauty and stories of Vietnam and beyond via photographs. If you have a compelling story you wish to share, send us an email via

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