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Private rescue team aids Yangtze River flood relief

Pub Date:2020-07-20 08:45 Source:Xinhua

HEFEI -- Huang Fumei had to leave her money and valuable items at home due to the fast-rising water level of the Yangtze River, China's longest, which has been plagued by severe flooding.

"There was only limited time allowed for transferring. A lot of people were evacuated in a rush," said Huang, who lives by the Yangtze in Sanzhou village of Susong county, East China's Anhui province.

Some villagers sought help and accommodation with their relatives, while others, like Huang, have been relocated to local schools.

Local authorities have organized rescue teams and boats to help villagers get back home and fetch necessary belongings.

Huang said she had 20,000 yuan (around $2,860) in cash at home, but forgot to take it during the evacuation. "I was quite worried," she said, adding that the money was saved for the medical treatment of her sick father.

Huang waited two hours before she embarked on a speed boat that would take her home, about 1 km away from the current river bank. Waters of the Yangtze breached the bank near her village on the evening of July 11. More than 1,900 villagers from her village and a neighboring one have been safely evacuated by the local government.

"We can take six villagers each time. They need to put on life jackets before we go," said Huang Hong, vice captain of the Susong Blue Sky Rescue (BSR) team.

"There is also a lifeguard on each boat in case someone falls into the water," said the 52-year-old local civil servant, who has permission from his office to participate in the flood-relief work at this time.

BSR is a non-profit organization whose primary tasks are search-and-rescue, information screening, and medical assistance during natural disasters or epidemics. The rescue team has set up 31 branches around China. More than 30,000 volunteers from all walks of life nationwide have been registered and trained professionally.

Private rescue teams, like BSR, could respond quickly to disasters since they come from local communities. Professional private rescue teams have been a reliable supplement for the government in this year's flood relief and rescue work.

Waters reached the top of road lamps in the village. Huang Hong had to turn off the engine and start to row when the boat got too close to houses.

Although Huang Fumei's house is on high ground, the first floor was flooded up to her calf. She opened the door and quickly located the money, but she was reluctant to leave her house when she saw the fridge was soaked in water.

The BSR members helped her move the fridge to a higher place before they left for another house.

"We are glad when villagers can retrieve their money. Their smiles are our best reward," said Chen Labao, captain of the Susong BSR team, also the owner of a clothing shop.

Four boats have been arranged by BSR to help send villagers back home, while other boats have been patrolling in the waters around flooded villages.

Heavy rain has affected over 2.8 million people in Anhui Province, with the water levels of the Yangtze River in the province staying above warning levels. A total of 543,000 residents have been evacuated as of Wednesday noon, according to the provincial disaster reduction and relief committee.

"We also saved a dog yesterday. It was on top of a door lamp when we found it. It couldn't escape since it was chained to the lamp post," Huang Hong said.

"The dog chased after us for a long distance after we brought it back to land, as if expressing thanks to us," Huang said.


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