CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Floods in China leave severe hardship in wake

QUXIAN (UCAN): Although media in China have been quiet on the extent and seriousness of floods that ravaged much of Sichuan during September, the damage to crops is expected to produce a tough winter for millions of people, as the rising water made it impossible to harvest or protect property and valuables.

A report from the Ministry of Civil Affairs says that the flooding that hit parts of central, southwest and northwest China has left 90 people dead and 22 missing.

Two weeks of continuous rain caused extensive flooding and landslides in nine provinces, forcing more than 1.6 million people to evacuate their homes. Damage to property is estimated at 26.09 billion yuan ($31.72 billion).

Nanchong, in the eastern part of Sichuan, was badly hit by floodwaters when the Qujiang River burst its banks. The homes of more 1.3 million people in Quxian alone were lost or damaged.

“The temperature at night is around 15 degrees Celsius, making life extremely uncomfortable for the homeless,” a parishioner from Nanchong said on September 23, predicting that rural families will endure a difficult winter as a result of the loss of crops and delayed harvest.

The 126-year-old church in Liduba lost its 40-metre-long property wall and a 27-metre-long retaining wall on September 18 due to floodwaters.

The inside of the church and the priest’s residence were washed away by torrents of water. When the water receded it left everything covered in mud, a hard blow for a community which is only just recovering from last year’s serious flooding.

Floodwaters also damaged another church in Quxian. Father Chen Sihong says that repairs to the two churches will cost about 200,000 yuan ($212,765). Jinde Charities said it is closely monitoring the situation in various provinces and assessing what relief efforts can be made.

The secretary general of the charity, Father John Ren Dahai, said on September 25 that some elderly villagers told Jinde personnel that floodwaters submerged the second floor of their homes and they are too weak to clear up the mess by themselves. 

They had a plentiful harvest earlier this month, but all the sweet corn and rice in their granaries has rotted or sprouted shoots after being soaked in the floodwaters.

The Catholic Social Service Centre in Xi’an, Shaanxi, sent staff to access needs in Fufeng county on September 23. They reported that in Fufeng, about 100 kilometres west of Xi’an city, dozens of rural poor families said they do not know what to do, as all their homes collapsed in the rising waters.

The charity gave 3,000 yuan ($3,646) and 5,000 yuan ($6,072) to two families that lost their homes. “We are unable to rebuild the houses for them, but the small sum of money is an expression of the Church’s spirit of charity,” a worker named Tong reported.

A member of one of the families, 73-year-old Wang Zhixiao, said he is grateful to the relief workers for taking an interest in their problems and responding in the way that they did.

As the local government has provided food, quilts and other emergency aid to the victims, the Church-run charity will look into more long term needs and resettlement projects.

In Quxian county, Sichuan, Jinde Charities is delivering cooking oil, rice and quilts up to the value of 110,000 yuan ($117,020) among 420 families, or two-thirds of households in Liduba village.

Father Ren said that although the storms have stopped, electricity and clean water are yet to be restored.

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