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  • 24-Hour Heavy Snow and Cold Wave Preps Go into Full Swing with “General Solutions for Winter”

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    Seoul Metropolitan City will be initiating its ‘2012 General Solutions for Winter’ from November 15 to March 15 next year in preparation for the grueling winter season.

    The 2012 General Solutions for Winter will focus on six tasks: protecting senior citizens, especially those who live alone, along with other vulnerable classes of people; removing snow in consideration of traffic safety; preventing winter influenza and addressing other welfare and hygiene issues; resolving public discomfort such as maintaining even market prices, notably during the kimchi-making season, and keeping the waterworks intact; preventing fire; and maintaining city infrastructures such as streets, parks, etc.

    This year’s program is special because the City aims to 1) proceed with the “Spending a Warm Winter with Hope Ondol” program; 2) expand winter shelters for the homeless (from 250 beds in 2011 to 420 in 2012); 3) install basic fire prevention units in 2,000 homes living on welfare; 4) increase the facilities for broadcasting heavy snow conditions by video (from 5 to 8), and establish a website for Seoul snow removal solution information (scheduled to open mid-November): 5) implement more cold wave solutions for the needy; 6) check energy source safety for city gas, central heating, and coal; and 7) prevent meters from bursting due to low temperatures, and devise a thorough solution for large waterway disruptions. As you can see, the solutions have generally improved this year.

    More Welfare Safety Nets for Low-income Families during Winter

    Utilizing 111 facilities involved in running the Hope Ondol project, the city will look for families in the “grey area” of welfare such as single senior citizens and young breadwinners and pay them a visit to provide further support.

    The program is named “Carriage of Hope” and will provide material support for needy families. Private companies and Carriage of Hope project members will help plaster walls, replace flooring, and repair boilers in the “Making a Happy Room” project.

    Seoul citizens living on less than half the minimum income can apply for emergency funding for heating and living expenses thanks to the Hope Ondol Emergency Support Fund. The fund has increased from KRW 100,000 last year to KRW 150,000, and the application period has been extended from two months to three. Senior citizen caretakers, Seoul sanction managers and other senior citizen service related workers (approx. 18,000) will be fully deployed to monitor physically-challenged residents. They will visit single senior citizens at least once a week and call them twice a week in the Caring Call program to check their condition. Whenever an emergency occurs there will be an immediate response from the fire department or welfare center

    The Metropolitan City will distribute meals once a day to psychically-challenged senior citizens (21,248) in addition to delivering side dishes twice a week. A winter emergency allowance of KRW 50,000 will be handed out to 119,000 families living on welfare. Facilities for the disabled citizens and needy children will also be supported. Fifty facilities for the disabled will receive funds for winter kimchi-making, while forty-three will receive funding for winter heating. 50,000 hungry children will be given meals throughout the winter vacation. The plan includes emergency distribution during heavy snowfall and the New Year vacation season.

    To help senior citizens overcome the cold winter season, two consulting centers will be established in the vicinity of Seoul Station and Yeongdeungpo Station. More manpower will be deployed ‘street consultants’. Emergency facilities will be expanded to accommodate more people: emergency shelters (extra accommodation for 200 people), emergency clinics (4 extra places, accommodation for 120 in total), emergency homes (50 extra places, accommodation for 100 in total).

    Preemptive Heavy Snow and Cold Wave Preparation and Traffic Safety Solutions

    Quick response measures to heavy snowfall will be aided by the enhanced heavy snowfall video transmission system. The snow removal management system will be complete and ready by early winter. A total of eight cameras have been installed along heavy snow routes, i.e., three more than last year (Incheon, Munsan, Ganghwa, Ungjin, Hwaseong, Goyang, Bupyeong, Siheung). The image from each camera will be updated every half hour to keep a close eye on weather conditions to help early response measures.

    The Disaster Task Force has been organized for a fast response to emergencies, and will be operated on a 24- hour-a-day basis. The task force will be notified of an emergency situation three hours before heavy snowfall. The force will distribute snow removal equipment in designated locations. Snow removal vehicles will be equipped with GPS (267 cars) that transmits images that can imply weather conditions. This will enhance the chain of command. The city will designate snow removal areas and dispatch labor equipped with adequate equipment. When heavy snow reaches level 3, a total of 39,996 people will be deployed.

    In step with these newly enhanced programs, the city has placed greater emphasis on utilizing SNS. Any standby supply that runs out and dangerous areas will be marked on the community map on http://gis.seoul.go.kr. Complaints can be registered via SNS such as Twitter, and will be addressed immediately.

    To minimize traffic jams during heavy snowfall warning level 3, subways will be in service for one extra hour during rush hour and operation hours will be extended.

    To prevent any safety accidents in the subway, 31.7km of land, 484 transition points on land, 12 train depots, and 134 roofless stations will undergo thorough maintenance. As part of a solution for removing snow on the ground, the transition machines will be equipped with snow-melting facilities. More manpower will be designated to remove snow in vulnerable sectors.

    Intra-city bus companies that operate in highly vulnerable sectors will be reviewing ways of transporting citizens safety from November 19 (Mon.) to 23 (Fri.).

    Seoul Metropolitan Government will utilize information media such as SNS, LED street signs (243), intra-city bus BMS, traffic broadcasting stations (FM 95.1MHz, TV) and other methods to announce blocked out sectors, main detours, congested routes, adverse weather conditions, and traffic safety messages. If an intra-city bus is forced to take a detour due to heavy snow, the 120 Dasan Call Center will be notified immediately.

    Stabilizing the Distribution of Produce, Water, and Electricity, and Collecting Garbage to Minimize Residents’ Discomfort

    Seoul Metropolitan City has selected eight target products for control to prevent prices from hitting the roof, which is expected to occur anytime soon due to this year’s poor harvest, including Nappa cabbage, Japanese radish, garlic, dried red peppers, leeks, onions, Asian pears, and apples. Information on the prices of kimchi ingredients will be available on websites, ARS, TV, and radio.

    To prepare for the kind of surprise cold wave Seoul experienced last year, the city will distribute meters to prevent major water pipes from bursting or leaking (24,900 homes). Existing meters will be equipped with a cold protectant (320,000 homes), and outdoor pipes will be covered in advance. Low-income families living in cramped quarters (3,280 people) will have a technician check the meter and have it prepared for the winter by November 14. Large water pipes will be checked by neighborhood watch and related personnel will be ready to implement an emergency restoration plan.

    Moreover, the water systems of major energy providers will be checked before the freeze. Each will designate a Winter Emergency Restoration and Correspondence Team to counter any accidents swiftly and efficiently. 975 natural gas facilities, local cogeneration plants (5 facilities), fuel sales outlets (briquette, LPC, butane gas, 322 stores) will be checked by the related facilities.

    Preventing Influenza, Food Safety to Prevent Food Poisoning and Contagious Diseases

    The city will implement measures to prevent influenza, foot-and-mouth disease, avian flu and other livestock-related diseases. Influenza antidotes that can treat 759,000 people will be available. Twenty-five local clinics exterminated maggots infesting the basement areas of large buildings, water reserves, and sewage facilities.

    A “door-to-door medical service” involving nine city-funded hospitals will treat homeless people once a week, and “Sharing Treatment” will be provided to citizens living in substandard homes once a week. Visiting areas with a high concentration of substandard homes has been increased to twice a month this year.

    To prevent contagious diseases among livestock, designated agents will be dispatched every week to visit areas with densely populated livestock farms, offering subsidies for disinfectants.

    Fire Emergency Checkup for Public Facilities and Preventing Fires in Low-income Households

    From November 2012 to February 2013, major public facilities such as movie theaters, department stores, and mega discount outlets (total 3,114 facilities) will be checked for fire emergency response. 125 traditional markets will be connected to water sources to combat fire emergencies with help from the city. 2,000 single senior citizens and families on welfare, and people living in substandard homes (7,215) will be given basic firefighting equipment.

    Safety at Large Construction Sites, Cultural Sites, Parks, and Other Public Facilities

    Seoul Metropolitan City will conduct a safety check of high-risk homes, shelters, and large factories. Popular parks and cultural sites will also undergo management and checks to ensure public safety.

    The city will establish a safety plan for homes and factories under reform (45 in total) and homes and facilities (29 in total) that are vulnerable to disaster, as well as areas that require extra care. The nearby areas will also be checked for safety.

    In preparation for heavy snow and cold snaps from November 15, Seoul City will also review the firefighting equipment, electric circuits, and construction status of the city’s cultural sites (246 locations).