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Battered by Heavy Rainfall, Zhuozhou Fights Through Deadly Floods
The city of Zhuozhou, located in Hebei Province of northern China, gained its newfound fame when it became the “poster child” for the worst floods that it has experienced in the last 140 years. Filled with history and legend, Zhuozhou is on the river plains near Beijing, and dates back to 5,000 years ago when it was the site for one of the earliest large-scale wars in the country in the Battle of Zhuolu. As the “capital of the Yellow Emperor” and the “first city of the Chinese nation”, it is connected to many renowned figures in Chinese history.
The heavy rain and typhoon-triggered flooding caused gauges to record between 355.1 millimeters to 435.7 millimeters, exceeding the usual flood-control measures of the usually dry region. Furthermore, the city’s flat terrain and dense river network raised the water levels. In response, the government activated the “flood storage areas”, evacuating more than 847,400 people, two of them in Zhuozhou.
Zhuozhou resident Wang Juan, 52, experience their home being forced to evacuate and only being able to reach to a temporary relocation center by raft. Many shops in the city suffered power outages with some residents failing to find a fully booked or electricity-free hotel room. As the rain eventually ceased, electricity was gradually restored but the water supply remained cut off. The city government dispatched water trucks to provide clean water for affected residents.
The vocational education center in Zhuozhou was turned into the largest relocation site for flood victims as its slightly higher elevation escaped the floodwaters. Understandably, many were in shock as the water levels did not recede for a long time.
In response to the crisis, a massive rescue effort mobilized with over 4,700 teams and more than 100,000 people sent to flood-affected areas in Hebei Province. As the water levels are dropping, efforts are now concentrating on relocation and providing aid to affected residents.
The disaster has highlighted how important it is to have “flood storage areas” and it has proven effective in minimizing impact on downstream communities. Even though Zhuozhou is going through a difficult time, the resilient city is slowly getting back on its feet