Difficult relief for flood-ravaged Chinese city
Last Updated: 2013-10-11 07:20 | Xinhua
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Power remains cut on Thursday for the third consecutive day for tens of thousands of households in the eastern city of Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, after Typhoon Fitow-triggered downpours lashed the city.

Floodwater retreated slowly but waist-deep water remained Thursday in many parts of the worst-hit city, where 70 percent of the downtown area was submerged in the once-in-a-century flood over the past three days, with 830,000 people affected.

Military trucks were seen on roads transporting residents who needed to go out for food or visit relatives outside the downtown area for temporary shelter. Trucks, cranes, bamboo rafts, tires and even tubs became travel vehicles for trapped residents, while others trudged through the floodwater.

"I walked in the floodwater for one hour. My submerged feet became white. The water is very dirty -- I fear I may fall ill," said a resident who asked to be unnamed.

"It is too difficult without electricity. Home appliances cannot be used. My children, fearing the darkness, kept crying for a long time before falling asleep," said Chen Xiaogang, a citizen in Yuyao.

Chen said he was told that life would return to normal gradually after one or two days.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, Yuyao had recorded precipitation of 501 mm.

Water supply had mostly resumed and telecommunications services had improved in the downtown area on Thursday.

Water levels in the street still reached Wang Weifeng's knees on Thursday outside the building where he lived.

"We live on the fifth floor. Two days ago, when I looked outside through the window, I felt like I had come to Venice overnight. I was so scared," remembered Wang.

"We have not been able to go out since Monday night, as water burst into my first-floor home, reaching my knees and then my chest the next morning. The bed was floating. We had to turn to the second floor residents for shelter," said Chen Jinbao, another resident.

"Because the floodwater is still deep, relief food has to be transported to our village by rowboats. It is slow, but we guarantee that every household has food," said an official in Gulutou Village.

No casualties have been reported so far in Yuyao due to the flood. The economic losses it caused were estimated at more than 20 billion yuan (3.25 billion U.S. dollars), the Yuyao City government said.

"Water has not retreated in many areas. It is very dangerous to resume power hastily," said Mao Hongfang, Communist Part chief of Yuyao City.

According to Mao, the sudden storm paralyzed local radio and television stations. Warnings and disaster alerts had to be released via the Internet and mobile text messages. Some residents failed to realize the disaster situation in time due to the damage to telecommunications facilities.

"The flood control and relief situation is still severe, given the high water levels of the Yaojiang River, the slowness of water pumping efforts and deep floodwater," said Xi Ming, mayor of Yuyao City.

More than 100 people joined the water pumping efforts. Ten pumping vehicles dispatched from other cities will be put into use soon, according to Xi.

"The top priority is to ensure the basic survival of disaster-affected residents," he said.

Nearly 100,000 trapped people were displaced in Yuyao. Thousands of rescuers, including 700 troops, joined the rescue and relief efforts.

Ningbo City has earmarked 53 million yuan (8.6 million U.S. dollars) to Yuyao. "We must guarantee food, water, clothes, accommodation and medical treatment," said Xi.

The Zhejiang Civil Affairs Department said Thursday that food and drinking water supply in Yuyao City was adequate and donated food and materials were also transported to the affected areas.

A provincial disaster relief team arrived in Yuyao to assist the relief efforts.

Typhoon Fitow, which made landfall in Fujian Province, just south of Zhejiang, early on Monday, has triggered heavy rain in eastern China. The storm left at least 12 people dead and six missing in Zhejiang, according to local authorities.

The provincial meteorological center said Fitow ranked second in terms of impact among typhoons that have hit Zhejiang, with only one typhoon in 1956 greater in impact.

Fitow brought winds of up to 200 km per hour to the eastern areas in Zhejiang and an average precipitation of 207 mm from Sunday to Tuesday for the whole province. Some 800,000 people were displaced as of Monday in Zhejiang.

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