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Flood-hit Hebei to reopen schools

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-25 09:19

An aerial photo shows a school in Zhuozhou, North China's Hebei province. [Photo/CCTV]

Flood-hit places in North China's Hebei province have been making all-out efforts to accelerate post-disaster reconstruction work, to try and ensure students return to school as scheduled and businesses resume production as soon as possible.

"I didn't expect we could go back to school on time because the flood had ruined so many facilities, including our school," said Li Xintao, a student at Baoding Wutan Center High School in Zhuozhou, which was one of the cities in Hebei hardest-hit by floods earlier this month.

Li, and more than 1,300 students and teachers, were recently notified that the new school semester will start on Friday. "I'm very excited and grateful to everyone who has contributed to the fast recovery," he said.

The school's buildings and playground were damaged to varying degrees, with two major power lines broken and the campus grounds covered in mud and debris after the floodwaters receded.

To make sure students can resume classes as scheduled, the school organized teachers, students and even parents to join in the restoration work, said Wang Jichen, a school official.

"We have completed the cleaning and disinfecting work, as well as repair of the power lines," Wang said.

The city is conducting safety assessments of 24 schools that were affected by the flooding, according to the local government. All 45 schools in the city can resume classes by Sept 1, it added.

In neighboring Laishui county in Baoding, which was also severely flooded, all of its 79 kindergartens and primary schools were affected.

Experts have been invited to assess the safety of the buildings of 12 flood-hit schools, while two badly damaged schools will need to be rebuilt, according to a report by Hebei Radio and Television Station.

About 130 students from the two severely damaged schools will be transferred to a nearby one for the new semester while their classrooms are being rebuilt.

"We have bought new tables and chairs, hoping they can feel a warm welcome," Wang Chunhua, principal of the Laishui Charity Primary School, was quoted as saying by the TV report.

In Xindu district, Xingtai, a total of 62 schools were affected by the floods. Of those, 36 have completed post-disaster reconstruction work, the report said.

"By Friday, we will have finished all the reconstruction work for our school," Xu Zhimin, the principal of Jiangjunmu High School in Xindu district, was quoted as saying.

Businesses are also gearing up to resume production as local governments devise ways to help the enterprises overcome their difficulties.

"Thanks to the bank's fast loan, I will quickly recover my farm," said Cui Xiqing, general manager of a sturgeon farm in Zhuozhou.

His farm lost assets of more than 40 million yuan ($5.5 million) after his nurseries and fishponds were submerged by 2-meter-high floodwaters.

The city's bureau of agriculture and rural affairs organized a Bank of China branch to provide loans through a simplified credit approval process to quickly meet people's needs.

The bureau has also dispatched a working team to help Cui remove dead sturgeons and clean up his farm. "Dead animals must be removed as soon as possible, as it is easy for germs to breed," said Liu Jinpo, deputy head of the bureau.

Cui said he is confident his farm will resume production soon, adding he is looking forward to a bright future for his business.

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