China floods: Zhengzhou downgrades emergency response, but heavy rain continues to fall in other parts of Henan
- While the provincial capital continued cleaning up, other major cities in the province were facing further heavy downpours
- Rescue services were working to get supplies to outlying villages and distribute supplies after the authorities said 3 million people had been affected
The central Chinese city of Zhengzhou downgraded its emergency response level on Thursday as it continued to clean up after this week’s devastating floods, but other parts of Henan province were braced for further heavy rain.
The storms have killed at least 33 people across the province and more than 3 million have been affected, the local authorities said. A total of eight people have been reported missing, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Three thousand military personnel were working in 10 different danger zones around the city, Xinhua reported. On Wednesday it published footage showing the soldiers laying sandbags over a breach in a dam on the Jialu river.
Donation points were set up around the city to distribute essential supplies after residents panic-bought supplies during the first days of the flood.
Meanwhile, fire crews have been touring the surrounding villages to help residents who have been injured or trapped, and were working throughout the day to drain flooded roads.
The city lowered its flood response from Level 1 – the highest level – to Level 3 on Thursday, China Central Television reported. Meanwhile the Zhengzhou flood control headquarters told a press conference that work was continuing to restore electricity and water supplies.
The press conference heard that eight electricity substations had been knocked out by the floods and the resulting power cuts had affected 473 neighbourhoods.
The authorities said that three of the affected substations were up and running and three more should be back in action by the end of the day.
Flood aftermath: Piles of cars left on roads after deadly floods in central China
Around a dozen water stations also stopped working as a result of the floods but most had been restored by Thursday.
Flood control also said it hoped to pump the west and centre of the city dry and remove cars that had been damaged or washed away before Thursday evening.
A road tunnel in the centre of Zhengzhou that had been flooded for two days was drained on Thursday, leaving behind dozens of cars piled over each other. Traffic resumed in the afternoon after the cars were removed.
But as Zhengzhou started cleaning up, other areas of Henan were bracing themselves for further flooding.
On Thursday, Henan’s meteorological department sent out a red alert, warning that some of the most densely populated parts of the province would see accumulated precipitation crossing the 100mm (3.9 inches) threshold. More than 30 million people, around a third of the province’s population, live in the affected areas.
On Thursday night, one area of Xinxiang recorded 267.4mm of heavy rain in two hours. This was more than the highest figure recorded in Zhengzhou the previous day.
Anyang has already been hit by severe flooding and the city’s paramilitary police have been deployed to tackle the damage, according to the news portal Thepaper.cn.
Anyang, Xinxiang, Kaifeng, and Zhoukou have a combined population of over 20 million, or a fifth of Henan’s total.
There were signs the impact of the floods had widened as of Thursday, with 3 million people in 877 counties of Henan now reported to have been affected, Xinhua reported.
On Wednesday, Henan’s flood control authorities said 1.24 million people in 560 counties had been affected by the floods.
Yue Shuzhen, head of the social service centre in Kaifung, said he was transporting supplies to Nanzhai county, where residents were running low on food and water after being hard hit by the floods.
He said the Amity Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, had responded quickly to an appeal for help, providing supplies such as bottled water, noodles and sausages in less than two hours.
Zhang Haixiang, a member of grass-roots group Blue Sky Rescue, said his team had to relocate an entire village in Xingyang.
“The whole town was submerged,” he said. “We didn‘t rest for 24 hours, and only took a one-hour break this morning. We were rescuing people even at midnight.”
In Zhoukou, 390,000 people have been relocated from Fugou and Xihua counties, according to the local authorities. One resident, Didi driver Yuan Peng, said that he received an evacuation notice on Wednesday afternoon and moved to his grandparents’ house about 2km away.
“I heard that it will continue to rain tonight, which is really scary. Last night’s rain was too great, it fell for an hour or two. I have not seen such a downpour since I was a child,” he said.