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Parts of Hanoi still flooded a week after rains

Some Hanoi families have been stuck in flooded homes for an entire week with no running water and no electricity after the heaviest rainfall in 35 years swamped Vietnam's capital.
Vietnam Floods
Many of the streets in Hanoi, Vietnam, were still under water Thursday. The Vietnamese capital was still pumping floodwaters after the heaviest rainfall in 35 years swamped large areas of the country and killed at least 93. Chitose Suzuki / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nguyen Thi Hoe has been stuck in her flooded house for an entire week with no running water, no electricity and three restless children. She's about to go crazy with boredom.

"I feel like I'm in prison," said Hoe, whose street is still under three feet of water and reeks of sewage. "I heard it might rain again and we'll be stuck here even longer. I can't take it anymore!"

By Thursday, most of Hanoi had dried off after the worst rains in 35 years flooded neighborhoods across the capital, where 22 people died. But a handful of the hardest-hit areas are still inundated, including the Tan Mai district, where 2,800 houses remained flooded.

Hoe, 40, hasn't gone outside for seven days. Her husband wades through the filthy water on their lane to fetch clean water and other supplies.

They've only had enough water for cooking and brushing their teeth — no showers, no laundry. Dirty clothes are piling up.

Rash after walking in water
Hoe's 17-year-old daughter, Pham Thi Nhung, finally ventured off to school after five days and came home with a rash on her legs after wading through the filthy water.

"It's so boring in the house, but going outside is even more terrible," Nhung said. "My exams are coming and I missed five days of school. What if I fail?"

More than 32 inches of rain fell in Hanoi over the last week, with much of it lashing the city over the weekend. Heavy rains also struck nearby northern provinces and parts of central Vietnam.

In all, 93 people died.

By Thursday, most of Hanoi was dry again, and the waters were even starting to recede in Tan Mai, a low-lying neighborhood that gets inundated with runoff from other sections of the capital.

With their toilets not working, many neighbors have been tossing buckets of waste off their balconies to get it out of their houses.

"I've never seen anything so disgusting in all my life," Hoe said. "I've never smelled anything so awful."

'Ferries' take to the water
Some Tan Mai entrepreneurs crafted boats out of plastic foam and planks of wood and were ferrying people in and out of the neighborhood for a round-trip fee of $3 — a full day's salary for many people here.

Nevertheless, some were willing to splurge to avoid setting foot in the scummy water.

The water level near Tran Quang Trung's house had fallen enough to allow him to bathe on the sidewalk — his first bath in a week.

His bathroom was still under three feet of water, but Trung, dressed in just a pair of running shorts, cheerfully sudsed himself up with soap and rinsed off using a bucketful of water he managed to bring home.

"This feels fantastic," he said. "I'm so happy, I don't care if anyone peeks at me."