Premier Li Keqiang called on local authorities to make the best use of flood control facilities and prepare for further downpours along the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers following recent deluges.
He visited flooded areas in Anhui and Hunan provinces on July 5, checking flood control facilities and disaster prevention work.
He emphasized the importance of such facilities in dealing with floods and urged local governments to protect local people’s safety and property during the heavy rain and flood season.
The Premier visited Wangjiaba township in Fuyang, northwestern Anhui, a key point along the 1,000-kilometer-long Huaihe River.
He also toured embankments along the Yangtze River and around Dongting Lake, China’s second-largest freshwater lake, in Yueyang, Hunan.
Flooding caused by torrential rain that began on June 30 has left 29 dead and two missing in Anhui, with 713,000 residents relocated from their homes, the provincial Department of Civil Affairs said on July 5.
The Premier urged local governments of the provinces to fully prepare for foreseeable deluges after checking real-time monitoring of the water levels of the Huaihe River at the Wangjiaba Hydrological Station, a key national monitoring facility in the township.
The station is near Wangjiaba Gate Dam, which was built to reduce the river’s water level if necessary.
In extreme cases, floodwaters will be diverted through the dam into the Mengwa Flood Retention Basin, which was completed in 1953 to cover 180 square kilometers, including 12,000 hectares of farmland that feeds nearly 180,000 people.
The basin has admitted water from the Huaihe River 15 times, ensuring the safety and property of millions of people living in downstream areas in Anhui and Jiangsu provinces.
Premier Li also inquired about food and medical supplies that had been prepared for residents in Mengwa.
Zheng Jizhou, a 56-year-old farmer in the basin, said local officials helped him harvest wheat before the rainfall. He said he was confident he could withstand flooding because proper preparations had been made.
Zheng also said the local government has reinforced the basin embankment, and the highland where his house was built has been buttressed to withstand flooding.
Premier Li said, “Local people have sacrificed a lot to ensure safety of downstream areas, and we won’t open the gate dam to admit water until we have to. Safety will be ensured when we have to do so.
“But flood retention cannot worsen people’s livelihood here, and we must work together to lead a better life,” he added.
According to the National Meteorological Center, the upstream areas of the Yangtze will see continuous downpours until July 8, increasing the risk of flooding in downstream areas along the country’s longest river.
Ai Wanxiu, chief expert of the climate service department at the National Climate Center, said this year’s rainfall so far is 28 percent more than the average amount in the Yangtze River area, and 11 percent more along the Huaihe.
As of July 4, 32.8 million people in 1,192 counties had been affected by flooding, leaving 186 dead and causing direct economic loss of 50.6 billion yuan ($7.6 billion), according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.