Zhengzhou residents on back of truck
Photo Credit: VCG

72 Hours in Henan's Floods

Photos and voices from the people living through catastrophic floods central China

At the time of writing, heavy rains since July 18 have caused devastating floods and affected over 1.2 million people in central Henan province, with 51 people confirmed dead and over 160,000 displaced.

All of the reported death toll came from the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, which saw its heaviest recorded rainfall in modern history—202 millimeters of water in one hour—between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on July 20. Much of the city, including hospitals, have been without power from that time until today, and is still without clean water. The city's subway system, where 12 passengers perished in a flooded tunnel on July 20, remains shut down, and buses and many train lines have stopped running—some rail passengers were stranded in Zhengzhou East Railway Station until today, while others were trapped for more than 30 hours on board trains that had gotten stuck in the rain before help arrived.

Rescue teams and volunteers have mobilized around the country to help displaced people and send supplies to affected areas, while around the city, there are tales of everyday heroism and ordinary people doing what they can to help one another and make the best of the situation. The following collection of photos and quotes from Henan residents illustrate what life has been like in the last 72 hours since the floodwaters hit:

' > Residents take shelter in a parking lot avoid the rain and floods in Zhengzhou city (VCG)

Many passengers stranded in Zhengzhou's train station were forced to spend the night in the parking garage. (VCG)

"Zhengzhou, a 'new first-tier city' with a shiny surface, was so vulnerable before this once-a-century storm."
Xinxin (pseudonym), female, 26, works for an insurance company in Zhengzhou; spent the night in a hotel
A Zhengzhou resident attempts to ride his yellow ebike through the floodwater in Zhengzhou (VCG)

Much of the province is still under water, with transportation impossible. (VCG)

"The hospital cut off electricity, water, and internet. Immersed in utter darkness, I was struck by great grief and terror at rain for the first time in my life: 'Why? How can this happen? How can just a little bit of rain do something like this?'"
Yu Kun (pseudonym), female, 25-year-old intern at the First Affiliated Hospital of the Henan University of Chinese Medicine in Zhengzhou
A yellow tractor carries residents away from heavy rain and floods in Zhengzhou (VCG)

Villagers near the city of Xuchang being evacuated by tractor (VCG)

"I was stuck on campus for one night and one day, then I rode a shared bike for three hours to reach home. The way home was full of broken-down cars waiting for rescue."
Tony, male, 31, works at an education company in Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou residents attempt to keep devices charged while being displaced the disaster (VCG)

A shop in Zhengzhou provided free electronics charging service while much of the city remained without power (VCG)

"I've been out of water and electricity for...today is the fourth day. We have no expectations [for when it will come back]."
Luis Ribeiro, male, 41, international resident in Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou residents line up to collect drinking water and other donated supplies. (VCG)

Zhengzhou residents line up to collect drinking water and other donated supplies. (VCG)

"The worst thing for me is no shower for the last four days. I've been charging [my electronics] in my friend's restaurant."
Luis Ribeiro
A pileup of cars as a result of the heavy rain and floods in Zhengzhou, Hunan province (VCG)

Retreating water reveals vehicles that were submerged and abandoned by drivers in the flooded streets (VCG)

"I've only even seen such scenes on TV before."
Yu Kun
"It's actually still quite dangerous. Apparently there are sinkholes opening in the city."
Luis Ribeiro
A man drives his scooter through the flooded streets of Zhengzhou (VCG)

A man drives down a flooded street on July 21 (VCG)

"I feel that everyone is so strong. This disaster hasn't passed, but the sun has come out, and the government and people are all working hard to fight the floods, so it gives me confidence."
Faith Lang, female, 30, works in foreign trade in Xinxiang
"I was so lucky."

Reported by Yang Tingting (杨婷婷) and Hatty Liu, with assistance from Tan Yunfei (谭云飞)

Video by Alex Colville

Edited by Sam Davies

Special thanks to Yuan Zhu, Yefren Nye, and Jessica Davis for assistance compiling this story.


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