With flood-related casualties this year almost halved from the
average of the past five years, the country's reformed emergency
response system has proved effective amid the grimmest flood control
situation in over two decades, according to authorities.
China has endured 21 major floods so far this rainy season, one more
than in 1998. As of Tuesday, alert-triggering floods have occurred in
833 major rivers, and 77 of those waterways experienced their most
severe floods on record, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
Amid the grim flood control situation, China has seen a sharp
decrease in flood-related casualties despite the wider impact of
flooding on people's lives and the economy, according to the Ministry of
As of Sept 3, the number of people left dead or missing in floods
across the country has decreased 49.8 percent from the average of the
past five years to 271. About 4.7 million people were evacuated, 47.3
percent more than the average of the five-year period, according to the
It also said 70.5 million people in 28 provincial regions experienced
floods, up 17 percent from the five-year average. Direct economic
losses caused by the disasters have increased by 27 percent from that
average to almost 214 billion yuan ($31.3 billion).
The decrease in casualties can be attributed to the close cooperation
of various government bodies involved in flood control, according to
Zhou Xuewen, secretary-general of the State Flood Control and Drought
Upholding the principle of "life first, people first", various
government bodies have enhanced monitoring and intensified patrolling.
"The Ministry of Emergency Management, which heads the office of the
headquarters, has been organizing the China Meteorological
Administration as well as the ministries of water resources and natural
resources to hold daily consultations. Monitoring was carried out 24
hours a day in a dynamic manner," Zhou explained.
The office of the headquarters is now based in the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Zhou said over 700,000 people patrolled dikes around the clock every
day in the five provincial regions in the middle and lower reaches of
the Yangtze River when the areas were hit by the heaviest floods this
"Once the patrollers found any signs of risk, they decisively evacuated people who were under threat," he said.
Instead of staying in their camps, members of the comprehensive fire
and rescue force with the Ministry of Emergency Management were
dispatched to key areas for flood control to ensure quicker response in
emergency situations, he explained.
Sticking to the principle that not a single person should be left behind, the team saved and evacuated 210,000 people.
In the latest reshuffle of the State Council, the country's Cabinet, the ministry was established in March 2018.
Aside from responsibilities of the defunct State Administration of
Work Safety, it also took over functions from other ministries,
including firefighting from the Ministry of Public Security, disaster
relief from the Ministry of Civil Affairs and drought and flood control
from the Ministry of Water Resources.
In the reform, the Ministry of Emergency Management established the
comprehensive fire and rescue force, consisting of around 200,000 former
firefighters and the forest force of the armed police, to cope with
different types of emergencies.
The operation of major reservoirs has also played a big role in flood mitigation, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
As of the end of August, 3,609 major reservoirs in the country's
seven major river basins, including the Yangtze, the Yellow and the
Huaihe river basins, have helped store nearly 145 billion cubic meters
of water, keeping over 20 million people from being evacuated, the
The promotion of automatic hydrological monitoring facilities has
effectively improved the accuracy and timeliness of the reservoirs'
operations. While all of the ministry's stations for precipitation and
water levels have resorted to automatic monitoring facilities, such
facilities have been used in 30 percent of its hydrological stations.
"Currently, there are a total of 130,000 stations for the monitoring
of various types of hydrological information across the country," the
ministry said. "Previously, these stations could collect precipitation
and hydrological information no more than four times a day. Now, the
information could be collected every hour. If needed, it could be done