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Floodwaters hamper relief efforts
Last Updated: 2013-10-10 01:18 | China Daily
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A boat proves to be better than any car as storms cripple Yuyao, an industrial city in Zhejiang province, on Wednesday. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Hunger and cold linger as traffic, telecoms cut off

Chen Zhenglan was about to have her first meal in two days.

The resident of Yuyao, Zhejiang province, and her family members were preparing noodles on the roadside at 4 pm on Wednesday.

As the worst flood in decades ravaged the city, Chen was just one of the many residents cut off from food, clean water and proper accommodation.

The flood rose so quickly that the family from Baijiao village was only able to recover a little food, clean water and a gas cylinder on two motor tricycles from the waist-deep water, said the woman, 50, wearing a winter sweater.

"We were forced to move out of the house Tuesday night," Chen said. "It kept raining during the night, and we six adults have to stand at the roadside and huddle under two umbrellas."

Zhu Dailin, 9, the only child in the family, was given some fried rice on Wednesday. The girl is Chen's niece, and she and her grandmother took shelter in the narrow carriage of a tricycle placed at the roadside on Tuesday night.

"I am scared of the darkness," the girl said. "It's very uncomfortable (in the carriage). My legs are numb."

The flood, caused by Typhoon Fitow, inundated houses, cut off roads, paralyzed telecom services, and forced schools and factories to shut down in this industrial city with a population of more than 1 million.

According to the city government, economic losses stood at about 7 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) by Tuesday. No deaths or injuries had been reported by press time.

Li Jinsong, who works for Konfoong Materials at Yangming Industrial Park, didn't resume work following the seven-day National Day holiday in early October. "The factory is inaccessible. The boss didn't tell us when we can return to work," he said.

At nearby Zettler Electronics, most of its 2,000 employees, half of them women, were stranded in their five-story dormitory without power or tap water.

Workers protected the factory's big machines before the flood could reach them, but the electric relays in the warehouse were inundated.

"The economic losses are set to be huge," said employee Ye Chunyang, who waded out of the factory with two co-workers to find some food.

Even the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, held every year on the eve of Chinese New Year, may be affected as a supplier of the elevator stage has ceased production following the rainstorm.

"We have provided stages to the gala since 2008," said Sun Wu, who works for Dafeng Industry, a 1,000-employee business.

"CCTV has yet to make an order this year. But time will be very short if it delivers the order as we have ceased production because the electric welder is soaked."

The flood also shut down small health institutions, police stations, ATMs and other public services, with residents using makeshift boats to travel on the dirty water.

In the villages of Xinqiao and Baijiao in the northern part of Yuyao, relief materials had yet to arrive on Wednesday. They tried to call for help but the police hotline ran unanswered, residents said.

Li Mingfa, a migrant worker in Xinqiao village, was busy salvaging his belongings and moving to a nearby factory.

The flood has risen quickly since Tuesday and his family, living in an apartment on the ground floor, kept raising the bed to keep it above the water level.

But in the early morning of Wednesday, the young man found snakes had come into his apartment along with the water, forcing the entire family to stay vigilant almost all night.

"I am lucky to have a friend working in the nearby factory, and he allowed us to make a bed on the floor in the workshop," Li said. "Since we have yet to receive any assistance from authorities, many families are simply taking shelter under the overpasses."

Authorities said on Wednesday that they had organized 4,000 emergency workers to help with disaster relief. A total of 100,000 residents have been relocated with 289 temporary settlement centers set up.

Pan Yinhao, deputy mayor of Yuyao, said at a news conference that the government has stocked enough provisions for 15 days, promising to hand out food, clean water, medicine and other daily necessities in a timely manner.

The problem is that the trucks and boats dispatched to deliver relief materials travel slowly, Pan said. The flood is expected to recede on Saturday and tap water supplies can be resumed as soon as 10 pm on Thursday.

Officials said the Qinshan Nuclear Power Station, near Yuyao, was running stably on Wednesday.

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