China's flood-affected regions step up reconstruction efforts

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Villagers get their personal belongings and prepare to go home from a relocation site in Xiqing District, north China's Tianjin Municipality, Aug. 20, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

Having narrowly escaped the onslaught of flash floods by taking refuge on her rooftop, Chen Xiuping faced a daunting task upon returning to her residence from a temporary shelter -- cleansing and restoring her home from the relentless mire.

"My house was buried under a layer of mud nearly half a meter deep. Cleaning it on my own was an immensely challenging task," said Chen, a resident of Banbidian Village in Fangshan District, one of the worst-affected areas in Beijing amid the city's heaviest rainfall since records began 140 years ago.

From late July to early August, several areas in northern China, including Beijing and its neighboring Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality, experienced rare rainfall and floods after Typhoon Doksuri moved inland, causing casualties and inflicting damage.

Post-disaster reconstruction is underway at an accelerated pace, with a focus on repairing damaged infrastructure such as transportation and communication as well as restoring farmland and agricultural facilities to ensure the gradual resumption of normal life for local residents.

Ensuring smooth return to home

After over two days of efforts by 100-plus workers, Chen's village completed the sediment removal last Wednesday. Residents have returned home, with the glow of lights illuminating the small village once again.

"As long as there's life, there's hope," said Zheng Guijiang, an official of Banbidian Village.

In Fangshan, as of 7 p.m. Saturday, signal restoration was completed for all 132 villages that had encountered communication disruptions, while electricity was fully reinstated in the 134 affected villages and water supply had returned to normalcy for 216 villages.

Beijing has outlined a post-disaster reconstruction plan, aiming to achieve basic recovery in one year and full restoration in around three years, Xia Linmao, executive deputy mayor of Beijing, told a press conference.

In Tianjin, more than 35,000 people relocated from areas prone to flooding by the Yongding River have returned home, while in Hebei Province, over 170 professionals have conducted risk assessments for 211 villages and 173 residential complexes that were once inundated by floodwater in Zhuozhou City, one of the worst-affected areas.

In the aftermath of the floods, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is carrying out post-disaster disinfection and epidemic work.

The Baoding Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention dispatched 20 public health experts to Zhuozhou for hygiene and disease control work. Another 11 working groups were sent to local townships to guide activities like disinfection and disease monitoring.

Hebei aims to complete post-disaster reconstruction within two years, and will ensure that every affected student can return to school by Sept. 1, and the affected population can return home or move into new accommodations before the onset of winter, according to the provincial government.

Restoring agricultural production

Local authorities are taking multi-pronged disaster relief measures to minimize the impact of flooding on agricultural production in affected areas.

In Shulan City in northeast China's Jilin Province, agricultural experts have intensified their efforts to drain accumulated water from fields. The municipal bureau of agriculture and rural affairs has deployed 434 drainage equipment to affected townships. At present, drainage work has been completed for over 248,000 mu (about 16,533 hectares) of farmland.

Affected farmers are given technical guidance, mainly focusing on the rescue of major crops like corn, soybeans and rice, and the adjustment and maintenance of agricultural machinery used in flooded areas, said Li Wensheng, an official with the bureau.

In Hebei, the agricultural authorities have dispatched more than 230 experts to the fields in Shijiazhuang, Xingtai and Baoding cities, offering on-site support to farmers in affected areas.

Chinese authorities pre-allocated another 1 billion yuan (about 137 million U.S. dollars) on Saturday as part of the central government's support for disaster relief.

The central government has allocated more than 9.68 billion yuan in various flood prevention and relief funds for disaster-stricken areas since the beginning of this year's flood season. 

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