Heavy rains have caused flooding in northern and north-central Vietnam, and officials of the local Church are encouraging aid for those affected.

Father Paul Nguyễn Quốc Anh, director of Caritas in the Diocese of Hưng Hóa, has challenged laity and religious to buy food, water, and medicine for the flood and landside victims, “for Catholics and non-Catholics,” AsiaNews reported.

Continuous rains from July 23 – Aug. 6 have led to flooding around Sơn Tây which has killed at least 28 people. Eleven people are missing, buildings, roads and bridges have collapsed, and agriculture has been severely affected.

Hà Văn Huyên, the leader of a village in the Yên Bái province, recalled the devastating moment of a flash flood.

“At first I saw that the flow of water was very small,” he told AsiaNews. “Then, the water started flowing in waves. Five minutes later, the water rose more and more. When I saw the danger, I screamed for people to escape. After only an hour, this huge flood appeared, about ten metres high and wiped out many houses.”

Also damaged in the flood was the Sùng Đô chapel in the Nghĩa Lộ District. The church’s pastor, Father Joseph Nguyễn Trọng Dưỡng, described the damages to his parishioners, which is largely made up of H’Mông people.

“About 20 families have lost their homes and their rice paddies. The family of Mr. Cứ A Chu, who has 13 children, lost home, rice field and gardens. People have little rice left to eat and unclean spring water to drink.”

On July 27, Auxiliary Bishop Alsphonse Nguyễn Hữu Long of Hưng Hóa visited the small mountain community of Sùng and the missionary area in Tả Phời. The areas are notably poor and remote. The bishop encouraged the residents to persevere during this difficult time.