SAN JOSE (Pune Mirror, March 17,2017): When floodwaters rushed in last month in San Jose, a firefighter hauled Hien Nguyen to safety. She left behind the two-bedroom apartment she shared with a roommate for $1,000 a month, managing only to take her identification and her phone. “Everything is destroyed,” the 70-year-old said, surveying her home last week, where she returned to clean and pick up clothing.
Now, Nguyen is living at a city shelter and like many others in San Jose’s Vietnamese community — the largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam — she is trying to figure out how to rebuild and find a home in high-cost Silicon Valley.
City officials say about 80 per cent of the 400 families still displaced are Vietnamese, and have little more than the clothes on their backs. “They are working families,” said city councilman Tam Nguyen, who represents a district that is about a third Vietnamese.
The flooding also displaced low-income Latino families, said Councilman Sergio Jimenez, who is trying to help them find new homes and replace possessions. San Jose saw another silver lining last week when a California billionaire donated $5 million for flood relief efforts. Kieu Hoang was a refugee from Vietnam himself, who once went on to build a fortune in medical products. He presented a check to city officials for a relief fund operated by various charities.
City councilman Lan Diep also represents an area where many flood victims live. He said Vietnamese people are inherently self-reliant and often band together in crisis rather than waiting for the government to step in and assist. Diep, 33, went to New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina flooding in 2005 and saw firsthand how the Vietnamese community there handled the crisis. “The Vietnamese community didn’t wait for FEMA or state assistance,” Diep said. “They pooled their resources and all cleaned up one home and then they all moved along to fix up another.”