Relief goods trickle into flood-hit towns

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-14 06:54

FENGSHUN, Guangdong: Standing alongside the remains of a wrecked country road, a bag of rice settled on his shoulder, Zhu Wensheng finally had something to smile about.

"Today doesn't seem so bad after several days of floods. It's only drizzling, but what really makes me happy is that I finally have something to cook," Zhu said.

The 51-year-old farmer from Hutian Village, Huangjin Town, in the mountainous county of Fengshun, yesterday received a 15-kg bag of rice from the provincial civil affairs department, which distributed relief packages to the flood-stricken region.

Hutian, home to some 37,000 farmers, was hard hit by floods after several days of heavy rains in South China's Guangdong Province.

"The key part of our relief effort is to help villagers resume tending their crops and to ensure that they have access to daily living necessities," Lu Shengwen, a media official with the Fengshun county government, said yesterday.

Also, the government yesterday warned the public to be wary of further floods. The local weather bureau has predicted another heavy rainfall today or tomorrow.

As of yesterday, the county reported direct economic losses of 346 million yuan ($45.3 million) caused by the floods. Some 127,000 people have been evacuated and two have died.

Meanwhile, 2,265 houses have been destroyed and up to 6,200 hectares of crops have been affected, sources with the local government said.

"So, the first thing is to ensure that affected villagers have access to daily necessities. Some people lost almost everything to the flood," Lu told China Daily.

The Guangdong provincial civil affairs authority yesterday distributed 79 tons of rice and 6,000 clothes to people in the county.

However, Lu said the relief goods would not be enough to meet the demand over the long term.

"Farmers will not be able to harvest anything for the next three months since almost all crops here have been destroyed," Lu said.

Lu said the local government would do its best to help farmers return to farming as soon as possible.

"We will soon distribute crop seeds to farmers," Lu said.

In another development, Lu said the local government is also mapping out some "suitable" places to build new houses for affected households.

Zhu, the farmer, hoped such work would get underway soon.

"I am really expecting the government to build me a new house. We have lost almost everything because of the floods. We cannot afford to build new homes by ourselves. You know, farming doesn't generate enough money to do so," said Zhu, who is currently living with his mother and five children in a temporary shelter set up by the local government.

(China Daily 06/14/2007 page4)

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