Thousands Trapped as Chinese Authorities Discharge Stormwaters Into Villages, Submerging Them

July 24, 2020 Updated: July 29, 2020

To ensure that cities are not inundated by floodwaters, local authorities in central China have begun discharging excess rainwater accumulating in rivers and reservoirs into rural areas.

Farmland and houses across Jiangxi, Hunan, Anhui, and Hubei provinces were submerged in recent days.

Many flood victims were without shelter. They set up tents in elevated areas and prayed for survival.

Locals told The Epoch Times that in some cases, authorities gave them only a few hours to evacuate, so they only had a chance to take some clothing and a few valuables that were portable.

The Chinese regime has not released any figures on how many people’s homes were destroyed due to the discharged water.

The Mengwa region of Anhui offers a window into what happened in the Chinese countryside.

The region, which is home to 195,000 residents, became submerged within hours after the Wangjia Dam in Funan County, Fuyang City discharged water from the Huai River.

State Propaganda

Recent state media coverage of China’s severe flooding emphasized that the country has roughly 100 regions designated as “flood storage” areas, meaning, they are prone to flooding due to their low elevation and proximity to tumultuous rivers.

China’s State Council made this distinction back in August 2012, noting that local governments would be allowed to discharge floodwater to these “flood storage” regions when needed.

State media reports claimed that it was inevitable that residents in these areas would encounter flooding. “Storing the floods means you need to open your door and let the flood enter your house. The homes of hundreds of thousands of Anhui people have been submerged,” a TV anchor from Anhui said during a news program.

The anchor “praised” Anhui people for “saving the country” by sacrificing their homes and property.

Ocean on Land

Xiao You, director of the Huai River commission within China’s Water Resources Ministry, told state-run media Xinhua on July 23 that the Wangjia Dam was closed that day, after it had discharged water for over 76 hours. But authorities could open up the dam again in the future if the river’s water level again rises due to heavy rainfall.

Xiao made no mention of what authorities would do to provide relief to the flooding victims.

In Guzhen township in Liu’an, Anhui, people told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that they were still stranded, as stormwaters had not receded in three days.

“It is like a ghost town now,” said Liu Gang, a business owner in Guzhen, in a July 22 phone interview.

Liu said several of his neighbors were missing, believed to have been washed away by the flood.

Authorities cut off water and electricity, while the town accumulated flooded trash and mud.

“It’s scary. The thieves went from house to house to steal things. Nobody is helping you,” said Liu.

He said thieves also broke into a local jewelry shop.

The flooding came unexpectedly because authorities suddenly discharged water from local reservoirs—leaving people with no time to prepare, Liu added.

Authorities recently discharged more water from two reservoirs close to the town, meaning more flooding could occur.

“I feel that the authorities have abandoned us. They don’t want to save us,” Liu said.

Gu He is a resident of Dangtu county in Anhui. Gu said the downtown area was inundated on July 17, while some rural areas were also submerged.

Gu complained that authorities discharged the river water without alerting people.

Mr. Liu (no relation) operates a grocery store in Zhegao county, located in Chaohu city, Anhui. The county is situated by Chao Lake. On the early morning of July 19, authorities broke its banks and discharged the water to Zhegao, Huailin, and Gaolin towns without advance notice.

“You [officials] should tell us before you discharge the lake, then we can pack our valuable things,” Liu criticized.

Liu said that the waters entered the town quickly. The flooding in his store reached 6.56 feet within three hours. He could not move the goods out and suffered at least $15,000 in damages. A neighbor home improvement store lost about $700,000.

“If the government gave us three hours, we could have put all the most valuable products on the truck and driven them out,” Liu said.

Zhang Yu, a villager in Zhegao, told The Epoch Times a similar story as Liu. “We only had time to save our lives,” he said. The water in Zhang’s house reached 9.8 feet on July 22, with the first floor fully submerged.