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Weihui battles back from record deluge

By YANG ZEKUN and SHI BAOYIN in Zhengzhou | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-07-29 08:58
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Medical workers check the status of a resident evacuated to a vocational school in Weihui, Henan province, on Tuesday. The school is housing several thousand people relocated due to the floodwaters. WANG FEI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Flooded area still struggling, but plans are being drawn up to kick-start recovery

A total of 204,000 people have been relocated due to heavy rainfall and severe flooding in Weihui, Henan province, and a number of disaster relief and recovery measures have been implemented, local officials said on Wednesday.

Figures released by the provincial government said that by noon Wednesday, at least 73 people had died in Henan since July 16 as a result of the downpours and 13.66 million people had been affected. Nearly 180,000 hectares of crops had been destroyed and over 17,000 houses had collapsed.

Most of the urban area of Weihui, a low-lying county-level city in the northern part of Xinxiang, remains submerged, and nearly 300,000 residents have been affected, Xinxiang Vice-Mayor Wu Shengjun told a news conference on Wednesday.

Between July 17 and 22, Xinxiang experienced the heaviest rains it had ever recorded, with an average of 830 millimeters and a maximum of 965.5 mm of rain falling.

Floodwaters in Weihui peaked at 20 million cubic meters, of which 16 million remain, Wu said.

"By now, apart from the urban areas of Weihui, there is no waterlogging elsewhere and Xinxiang has basically returned to normal, with businesses gradually resuming operation," Wu said.

Shen Jiwei, an official with the Henan Provincial Water Resources Department, said Weihui's location at the intersection of two rivers, combined with the heavy rainfall, was responsible for the flooding, and made it difficult for water to drain away.

Shen said that as the level of the Weihe River remains high, water is not draining away smoothly. In addition, a large nearby canal had been breached, further flooding Weihui and making the waterlogging even more serious. The breach was repaired on Monday.

Authorities have now dug drainage ditches and built cofferdams to try to keep the water out of the city. They have also brought in more pumping equipment and opened 10 sluices to drain water into the river.

"We will try our best to solve the waterlogging in Weihui in the next three days," Wu said.

Xinxiang's city government has sent five working teams focused on different areas, including emergency rescue, resettlement, health and epidemic prevention, to help Weihui recover. It also provided half the relief materials and funds needed.

More than 2,200 rescue personnel from Henan and other provinces are also helping in Xinxiang. They are concentrated in Weihui, rescuing people and transferring them to hospitals and nursing homes.

Li Zhiyong, Weihui's executive vice-mayor, said its government will come up with plans for recovery and the resumption of work and production as soon as possible.

"We had already purchased public security and property insurance for all of the residents, and have launched a compensation mechanism to help industrial and commercial enterprises resume work and production and restore normal conditions as soon as possible," Li said.

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