China’s Severe Flooding Causes Masses To Flee Their Homes

Torrential rain triggered severe flooding in parts of central China on Tuesday, submerging underground subway stations and aboveground streets alike and forcing residents to flee their homes. More than 10,000 people in Henan Province have been relocated to shelters in the aftermath of the record rainfall. Roughly 624mm of rain was reported per day during the week of July 19th – as much as the country would normally receive in a full year. Since the floods began, at least 25 people in Henan have died, and hundreds more have been trapped in schools, public transportation lines, and other urban structures.

Several dams and reservoirs have risen above alert levels, resulting in a 20-meter breach, and soldiers have been sent to reroute rivers that have burst their banks. Flights and train schedules have also been suspended in various districts of Henan. Rescuers have been spotted using rope to rescue people caught in public transportation and remove them to safety, while other civilians have been seen standing on railway seats to keep themselves above water. Volunteers have been paddling inflatable rafts to serve hot food to residents trapped in apartment buildings since the storms began. Furthermore, numerous volunteers with tractors and bulldozers have traveled around the six-million-person capital city, Zhengzhou, to plow through the flood and rescue residents.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the public is questioning authorities’ preparation. Incorrect weather forecasts leading up to the rainstorm and the choice to keep subway lines running before and amid severe rains have received particular focus, and many have expressed concerns about officials’ transparency, especially regarding the safety of the subway’s systems. Since then, the Chinese government has directed local civic officials to make quick improvements to urban flood control and emergency response, as well as to address hidden dangers on the rail system.

“[Local governments] must take emergency measures such as suspending trains, evacuating passengers, and closing stations in atypical situations such as excessively intense storms,” the Ministry said on Weibo.

Taking note of the flood’s effects on urban infrastructure and the fatal underwater traps created by the storm, city planners have been obliged to adjust their plans to take harsh weather more firmly into account going forward.

Mia Heaphy