HEFEI/CHANGSHA/WUHAN, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Suffering from rain-triggered mountain torrents twice in 24 hours, residents in Biyun Village in east China's Anhui Province said they had never experienced such downpours before.
"It's getting bigger every time, and parts of the village were inundated by knee-deep floodwater," said 54-year-old Xia Minghua, Party secretary of Biyun, in the city of Xuancheng.
The village was battered respectively by two torrential floods at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday and a total of five bouts of heavy rains in Xuancheng since it entered the flood season this year had forced the evacuation of 22,107 people as of Tuesday.
"Before the flash floods, local authorities had arranged for the relocation of a dozen villagers living in lowlands, riverbanks and other places vulnerable to floods," said Fang Guanghu, a resident of Biyun.
"We are now temporarily living in a conference room in our village, provided with meals, television, mosquito-repellent incense and quilts, all free of charge," Fang added.
While relocating residents, local authorities are racing against time in their rescue work, as "trees and debris washed down by mountain torrents blocked the river channel. We have to dredge it in time to prevent more severe damage in the upcoming floods," Xia said.
Since June, continuous downpours have lashed parts of China and the waters of many rivers in the affected regions exceeded warning levels.
China's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters upgraded the emergency flood response from Grade IV to Grade III on Tuesday. The country has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with Grade I representing the most severe.
Although a few days have passed, 65-year-old Luo Yuehua still felt scared when recalling her experience on Monday night.
"At around 10 p.m. Monday, local officials came to persuade us to evacuate as fast as possible, as my house was in great danger of collapse due to days of torrential downpours," Luo said.
Hidden in a mountainous area, Qinglong Village, where Luo lives in Qiaoziwan Township, central China's Hunan Province, was hit by a rain-triggered landslide late Monday night, when local officials went into the village to relocate 62 residents to a small campus on the highland.
With a high altitude and loosely distributed residents, Qinglong was hit hard by Monday's sudden rainfall, with many sections of the mountain roads to the village blocked by falling rocks and tree branches, making it urgent to conduct relocation, said Liu Furong, head of Qiaoziwan Township.
Besides Qinglong Village, Hunan had evacuated a total of 6,427 people as of Tuesday as a result of the continuous heavy rain that affected more than 146,000 people in the province, according to the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters.
At Qinglong Village's relocation site on a small schoolyard, the classrooms have been converted into temporary dormitories. Children can play on the playground while villagers can sit and chat, according to Liu.
Lashed by incessant downpours, central China's Hubei Province raised its emergency response for natural disaster relief from Grade IV to Grade III starting from Wednesday noon.
The recent rounds of heavy rain since July 4 have claimed two lives and affected more than 2.55 million residents across Hubei as of Wednesday morning, said the provincial emergency management department, adding that about 65,000 people have been relocated.
"With food, drinks and other daily necessities all offered free of charge, we don't need to worry about anything here," said Fang Yaorong, a resident living in Tianxingzhou Island in Wuhan, capital of Hubei, who was evacuated to a relocation site at a primary school in Wuhan's Wuchang District. Enditem