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Shanghai Set to Fight Floods

To Xu Fang, who lives in a small house in Yangshupu Lu with her husband and their 3-year-old son, floods are a curse.

Every year during the wet summer season, her street gets flooded. Water seeps through the sandbags placed outside her door into the house.

"Whenever it rains for more than 30 minutes all the houses along my street get flooded," Xu said. Sometimes she has to wade through knee-deep water to get to the bus stop.

Her worries have been deepened by forecasts of an unusually wet season this year.

On Tuesday, Shanghai issued a yellow warning as thunderstorms and strong winds hit the city. In some areas 88 mm of rainfall was recorded in less than 12 hours. Fortunately, the rain did not cause major flooding and only minor damage to power cables.

However, there is ray of hope on the horizon - the municipal government is giving top priority to flood prevention.

The flood prevention department said it will spend 200 million yuan (US$28.8 million) this year to improve flood-prone streets and underground drainage systems.

"Sewer pipes in some parts of the city cannot cope with the fast growing population," Zhang Zhenyu, spokesman of the department said.

"Take Yangpu district for example, the old factories and workshops there are soon to give way to residential communities which means a larger drainage system. So work on that will be speeded up this year," he said.

Special attention will also be paid to the underground tunnels by ensuring the smooth operation of flood prevention walls, floodgates and pumping stations, Zhang said.

There are more than 28 million sq m of underground tunnels in the city. Zhang said emergency plans have also been put in place regarding the evacuation of residents and flood drainage.

Efforts are already paying off in some areas of the city.

Xie Huayun, who lives in a house on South Yunnan Road, said she no longer has to worry about floods. The government laid new sewer pipes in the district four years ago.

"Before I had to scrub my house down after every flood. I have been living here for the past 16 years, things have changed for the better," Xie said.

(China Daily May 29, 2008)

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