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China strengthens flood-defense network amid seasonal downpours
  2020-07-13 17:04  


        Rescue personnel evacuate students trapped in floodwaters from a middle school in Duchang county, Jiujiang city of Jiangxi province, July 8, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

  China has swung into top gear to strengthen its flood-defense network as incessant downpours continue to wreak havoc across vast stretches of the country, with unusually high precipitation causing alarm.

  For three consecutive days this week, the country's national observatory has issued an orange alert for rainstorms, the second most severe in the country's four-tier alert system.

  Some 271 rivers across the country had seen floods above warning levels by the end of June, about 40 percent more than during the same period in recent years.

  On July 2, China launched a level IV emergency response for flood control and upgraded it to level III in less than a week.

  Experts noted that the work of flood control is at a crucial stage, as the dual challenges of floods and COVID-19 have put China's disaster relief and emergency management systems to the test.

  "Frequent floods are expected in China's rivers in July and August due to heavy rainfall," said Wang Zhangli, an official with the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR), requiring a high level of vigilance.

  This year's flood season comes as China is striving to resume normal business operations after securing major strategic achievements in combating COVID-19, said Zhang Jiatuan, an official with the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM), calling for multi-pronged measures to overcome the dual challenges.

  China has pledged all-out efforts in flood-control and disaster-relief work, such as enhancing monitoring and early warnings, increasing material and funding support, as well as advancing the construction of relevant projects.

  The country has empowered flood-forecasting platforms with new technologies to improve accuracy and ensure the public are alerted as early as possible, said Liu Zhiyu, an official with the MWR.

  Each time the flood warnings were triggered, the country spared no efforts in pooling resources to address major problems.

  On Wednesday, China allocated a total of 615 million yuan (about $87.93 million) for disaster relief in regions hit by floods, according to the MEM.

  Meanwhile, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters allocated central disaster-relief supplies and dispatched special work teams to provide guidance for local governments.

  Multiple provincial-level regions have enhanced their emergency response measures in the face of flooding, and made arrangements to ensure people's safety, help the afflicted get back on their feet, and maintain normal social and economic activity in disaster-hit areas.

  On Tuesday, East China's Zhejiang province raised its flooding emergency response to the top level along the Qiantang River, and one day later, the Xin'an River Reservoir, the largest flood-control project in eastern China, opened all the nine spillways to release floodwater.

  It was the first time that the reservoir had opened all the spillways to discharge floodwater since its construction was completed in 1959.

  In Anhui province, local authorities raised their emergency response for flood prevention from level III to level II on Tuesday as the waters of multiple rivers exceeded warning levels.

  The province has set up 88 temporary relocation sites to house 3,200 residents displaced by rain-triggered floods and provided them with disaster-relief supplies.

  Zhang said that the overall impact of floods this year is less than during the same period over the past five years, with a 50 percent reduction in the number of dead and missing, while the number of collapsed houses and direct economic losses are down by 82 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

  From focusing on rescue to coordinating efforts in flood prevention and disaster relief, China has updated its concepts of emergency management, said Zhu Xiaoyu, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences under the Ministry of Finance.

        Source: Xinhua News