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Farmers huddle in makeshift shelters

By LI LEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-07-13 07:59
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Children rest in bed after finishing their homework on Saturday night at a makeshift shelter in Poyang county, Jiangxi province, after flooding from continuous heavy rainfall inundated residences. [ZHANG ZIWANG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

A handful of farmers discussed the losses caused by the torrential rains after a simple meal prepared by volunteers on Saturday night at a makeshift shelter in northern Jiangxi province.

Beds were arranged in neat rows at the shelter set up in local school facilities vacant for the summer break. Bamboo mats and electric fans were handed out for relief during the sultry night.

That was a common scene over the weekend in the six makeshift shelters in the town of Changzhou, Poyang county.

Persistent rainfall has wreaked havoc in the township over the past week, inundating residences and fields of crops.

According to the Jiangxi Daily online news portal on Sunday, more than 3,000 Changzhou residents have been relocated to such shelters.

Local branches of the women's federation and the Red Cross deployed about 200 volunteers to provide psychological counseling to those affected starting Friday.

"It rained like dumping water, and the flood soon overflowed the bank," said 66-year-old Poyang farmer Huang Guirong about the river in front of her home.

She was among 500 villagers taken in military boats to a local shelter on Thursday. She told Xinhua News Agency that her family had fled to the roof to await rescue.

Xinhua reported that the school where Huang's family took shelter had instant noodles, bottled water, bamboo mats, toilet requisites, medicines and other basic necessities in supply. A boiler was set up to provide hot drinking water.

Heavy rains began lashing the north of the province on July 6, pushing water levels in multiple rivers and lakes to dangerous highs, according to the provincial flood control authorities.

In response, local authorities deployed tens of thousands of firefighters, officials and rescue workers to help those affected.

Flood control authorities said precipitation in Jiangxi has reached an average of 214 millimeters so far this month, quadrupling the average of past years and hitting a record high since 1950. Rainfall in Nanchang, the provincial capital, and a number of cities including Jingdezhen, Jiujiang and Shangrao have swelled to five to six times normal.

About 4.4 million residents have been affected by the flooding since July 6, authorities said. More than 352,000 were relocated. Some 387,400 hectares of crops were affected, of which almost 59,000 hectares were ruined. The direct economic damage has reached 4.9 billion yuan ($700 million).

Huang Shengxiang, 58, who found refuge in a shelter, told Xinhua that he would have been preparing for the rice harvest were it not for the flooding.

"All my 300 mu (20 hectares) of rice was flooded, and the loss is estimated at more than 300,000 yuan," he said.

Another farmer, Huang Yuqin, hoped the floodwaters would soon recede. "If the flood recedes in 20 days, we'll still have a chance to replant the paddies," she said.

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