Private rescue team aids Yangtze River flood relief

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

Huang Fumei had to leave her money and valuables 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 accommodation with their relatives, while others, like Huang, were relocated to local schools.

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

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

Huang waited two hours before she embarked on a speed boat that would take her home, about 1 kilometer 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 people at a time. They need to put on life jackets before we go,” said Huang Hong, vice captain of the Susong Blue Sky Rescue 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 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.

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