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Communities come together for disaster relief

By YUAN SHENGGAO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-10-15 09:23

Rescuers in Jishan county repair a section of an embankment that was washed away by floodwaters of the Fenhe River. CHINA DAILY

Officials, residents and volunteers were intensifying their efforts to relieve damages caused by a severe flood in North China's Shanxi province, in the hopes of bringing local life to normal as soon as possible.

From Oct 2 to 7, the average precipitation across the province reached 119 millimeters, with cities including Taiyuan, Yangquan, Lyuliang, Jinzhong and Linfen exceeding 150 mm. Some areas in those cities saw more than 200 mm, with the largest amount reaching 285.2 mm in Daning county in the city of Linfen, according to local officials.

The drainage basin of Fenhe, the second-largest river in Shanxi and a branch of the Yellow River, was among the hardest-hit regions.

At the lower stream of the river, peak flood volume surpassed 1,000 cubic meters per second. That figure is the largest peak flood volume in the past 40 years, according to local media reports.

Hejin, a city at the lower reaches of Fenhe, took on the peak of the river's flooding measured at 1,000 cu m per second on Oct 9, according to Zhang Tingwu, head of the city's emergence response bureau.

"This is a sharp contrast compared to its normal runoff volume of less than 30 cu m," Zhang said. "And the width of flow has increased from less than 10 meters to more than 100 meters."

To prevent the risk of embankment breaking, a strong force of rescue teams-with its members including officials, residents and volunteers-had been along the river for three consecutive days since Oct 8. Their missions included monitoring water conditions and enhancing the embankment.

Zhao Guobin, a resident in the village of Dongguan, said he had been patrolling the bank for about 12 hours with his 40-plus colleagues.

"Every two people were responsible for monitoring a section of about 100 meters," Zhao said. "I walked about 8 kilometers during the night."

In Jishan, a county neighboring Hejin, there were 12 emergency response teams working along the Fenhe River. Team members were on duty 24 hours a day in three shifts to ensure that every emerging situation could be dealt with on time.

Since the flooding began on Oct 2, governments at various levels in Shanxi have responded quickly to all kinds of emergencies.

According to Wang Qirui, head of the Shanxi Department of Emergency Management, heavy rains have triggered disasters including landslides and flooding that have affected more than 1.75 million people in 76 counties, districts and cities. They have also caused more than 5 billion yuan ($773 million) in economic losses. Fifteen people have died as a result of the flooding and three are missing.

About 19,500 houses have collapsed and around 120,100 people have been relocated to safer places. The rains and floods damaged about 238,460 hectares of grain crops.

The provincial department of emergency management and the Shanxi Department of Finance allocated a fund of 50 million yuan for disaster relief. The finance department, the Shanxi Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Shanxi Department of Water Resources set aside another 50 million yuan for emergency rescue.

According to Li Guishun, an official at the Shanxi Department of Transport, the total length of flood-damaged highways reached 6,021 km.

The department has mobilized nearly 69,000 people and more than 13,000 sets of machines to repair the roads since the beginning of this month. By Oct 11, highway traffic in Shanxi was basically back to normal, Li said.

As floods can cause contagious diseases, the Shanxi Health Commission warned that measures should be taken to disinfect flooded areas.

The commission has dispatched teams of medical workers to help to treat injured residents and patients in disaster-hit regions in the province, according to the commission's deputy chief Feng Lizhong. He added that the medical teams would also give instructions to residents on disease prevention.

Wang Pei contributed to this story.



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