Interview: A Christian’s Rescue Story in China's Flood-Ravaged Henan Province

Local rescue workers used kayaks to save people from flooding in Xinxiang, flood-hit Henan in late July 2021.
1/2Local rescue workers used kayaks to save people from flooding in Xinxiang, flood-hit Henan in late July 2021. (photo: XinHua News Agency)
The volunteers were pictured with the relief materials for the Xinxiang City in Henan which was flooded by torrential rainstorms on July 21, 2021.
2/2The volunteers were pictured with the relief materials for the Xinxiang City in Henan which was flooded by torrential rainstorms on July 21, 2021.
By Li ShiguangAugust 30th, 2021

From July 17 to 22, torrential rain battered Xinxiang, Henan Province. The rainstorm had a maximum precipitation level of 907mm – the most extreme level of precipitation since the start of Xinxiang City’s meteorological records.

Brother L is a native of Xinxiang. When the flood struck he was in Sichuan, but his wife and children were all in Xinxiang. Recalling his emotions at that time, he said, “I was in a hurry to return to my hometown, but there was no way back. Apart from praying, no one could do anything.”

On the night of the 26th, Brother L returned to Xinxiang. It usually takes a few hours to drive, but because of the flood and rainstorm, he said that he drove for more than ten hours all the way. When he arrived, he found that only one highway exit was open. After getting off the highway, he drove along the residential roads. On the way, he could smell a rancid odour in the air and saw many dead animals floating in the floodwater.

L had a night’s rest at home. On the next day, he found that there was water in his basement. At noon, a Christian brother came to his home, telling him that the disaster situation was not looking very optimistic. Many Christians in the church were very enthusiastic, willing to help with disaster relief.

Less than half an hour after that the visitor left, L received a phone call from the brother asking him to help deliver some relief items to the subordinate Weihui and Huixian. He drove to the rescue mission with supplies in the afternoon. L said that he had been busy collecting and delivering relief materials throughout the course of those few days. He sent them to places that had suffered the most from the disaster, such as Xinxiang City, Weihui City, Huixian City, and Xunxian County, where he had been. This continued until August 2nd when it could no longer be done due to road traffic control, preventing them from providing any further aid.

He said that everyone was equally at risk in the face of a disaster regardless of their denomination. As long as it was a severely affected place, he could send relief supplies there. 

Up to now, it has been nearly one month since the rainstorm and flood. However, the impact of the disaster is still apparent.

He said that these effects were far more serious than many people thought. Among his friends, there were photos of the scene in the disaster area, showing that there was still much rubbish beside the road before it could be cleaned up. Now the accumulated water on the road is basically gone, however, in many low-lying farmlands, the water has not completely receded. His home is relatively close to Weihe River, which has led to water seeping into the basement every day until now. At the beginning of the flood, only the property office in their community had a pump, which was always broken because it was used too often. L bought a new pump and pumped water out of the basement every day.

However, compared with post-disaster reconstruction and restoration of normal production and living order, in his view, people’s psychological problems after the disaster should be more of a priority.

He shared, “Xinxiang has not suffered such a huge disaster for many years. For most people, this disaster was something they had never experienced before. Because they had never experienced it, people didn’t know how to deal with it let alone how to face it in the future. The flood will subside slowly, but the psychological problems of many people caused by the flood are slowly increasing.”

After the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, he also returned to Sichuan, which is his ancestral home, to assist with disaster relief efforts. In addition to this, his faith gave him psychological support, so now when the disaster came, he would not panic. However, for many people who were hesitant because of their lack of experience in facing disasters, they were faced with the challenge of how to move on with their lives after the flooding receded.

He found that many believers in the church were very enthusiastic in the face of disasters. He also saw that many Christians in Shandong, Jiangsu, and even Beijing were very concerned about the flood disaster in Henan. Some people raised and donated disaster relief supplies, and some traveled long distances to reach the disaster area.

“Brothers and sisters are very caring, which is a very important aspect, but at the same time we must be careful and wise in our approach,” he added.  

In the process of the relief, L saw that many people often did things in a rather inefficient way. For example, it took one or two days to verify a message in an emergency despite the disaster being so serious and the information processing was very unsmooth. Due to the lack of efficiency in communications, it took a long time to confirm which supplies were needed in each affected region. Because of this, it was possible that after a day or two the supplies that had been prepared and sent were no longer needed because the situation had changed significantly by then.

He hoped that believers would not just fight their own battles when participating in rescue but needed to become more efficient in information processing and circulation and work together as a whole team.

“We need to be able to send the supplies to the places where they are most needed in the shortest possible time so that we can play a good role to maximize the best use of the limited resources.” He stressed, “Accurate information and quick action are the true acts of love in this situation.”

- Translated by Charlie Li

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