Feature: Vigilant guardians fight flood along Yangtze

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HEFEI, July 27 (Xinhua) — Situated along the Yangtze River, China’s longest waterway, Walong village has a history of enduring multiple floods, during which every household sends representatives to patrol the river bank.

“Since the water exceeded the warning level on July 5, we have been patrolling along the bank of the Yangtze River around the clock,” said Hu Mingzhe, director of the villagers’ committee of Walong, Dongzhi County, in east China’s Anhui Province.

Patrollers use long bamboo sticks or shovels to remove weeds at the bottom of the levee and carefully examine if there is any water leakage on the ground. Villagers patrol the bank in three shifts, with five people in each shift.

“If muddy water is flowing out from the bottom of the embankment, that’s very dangerous. The flowing water washes away dirt in the structure and erodes the entire embankment,” Hu said.

Hu and his fellow villagers are responsible for the safety of a 500-meter-long embankment. If there is a leak, they need to notify the authorities immediately, because any leakage could cause the dike to collapse.

On the embankment, flood control watch-houses, made of tents, have been set up every 500 meters to ensure that any emergency can be handled promptly. Each watch-house has two or three folding beds, with a mosquito net hanging over each of them.

“I set my alarm at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. because we need to check every three hours,” said Hu, who often carries a flashlight at night and takes notes while patrolling.

“I am mostly scared of snakes during the patrol. During floods, snakes leave the water and hide in the grass along the bank. Sometimes we would kill a dozen snakes a day. That’s why we need to carry a stick while patrolling,” said Gao Pan, a 20-year-old college student from Susong County of Anhui.

Gao joined the patrol team during the summer holiday to render his efforts in protecting his hometown.

A total of 35 rivers and lakes in Anhui, including the Yangtze River and Huaihe River, had seen water exceed warning levels as of July 18. The provincial government activated the highest-level emergency response for flood control.

Since July 2, continuous heavy rains have battered 80 counties across the province, according to the provincial office of emergency management. As of July 19, nearly 4 million residents had been affected and 664,000 were relocated.

Statistics showed that more than 480,000 hectares of crops across Anhui were damaged, resulting in economic losses of 15.27 billion yuan (about 2.18 billion U.S. dollars).

In order to protect people’s lives and property, there are currently more than 187,000 people patrolling along rivers or engaged in fighting floods across the province.

Statistics from China’s emergency management authorities showed that over 2,500 flood-related risks have befallen by July 18 in the five provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including over 100 dike-related hazards. However, all risks have been effectively handled. Enditem

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