Cities urged to step up disaster response

Updated: 2013-10-17 15:06


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Recent floods caused by storms in East China have once again exposed problems amid China's rapid urbanization as officials and experts called for a stepping up in the emergency response by local governments and better urban planning.

An unprecedented storm flood inundated 70 percent of Yuyao, an industrial city in Zhejiang province, last week. The city was paralyzed after power, tap water, telecom and public transportation services were disrupted.

At the International Forum on Urban Flood Control that ended in Shanghai on Thursday, Wang Xiang, deputy director of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said that a striking problem is an inadequate emergency response by local governments.

Although all cities have set up specific offices to coordinate flood control and drought relief efforts, lower level entities, such as communities, companies and public organizations, are short of personnel, expertise and disaster relief materials, he added.

Also, emergency response management involves multiple government agencies, with their duties overlapping each other and not properly supporting each other in relief efforts.

"Their duties should be clear and a coordination mechanism should be set up," he said.

Zhang Jianyun, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, zeroed in on the scientific planning of a city's drainage system.

Great attention should be attached to drainage in urban planning when developing new cities or transforming old towns, he said.

Earlier this year, the State Council issued a notice urging cities to step up the construction of drainage networks to prevent flooding.

The notice said cities should complete a plan to carry out necessary work before the end of 2014, and that the building of functional systems should be completed within 10 years.

The Shanghai forum gathered experts and professionals from Canada, Japan, Germany, Denmark, Nepal, India and Hong Kong, who shared their expertise on problems related to storm floods in cities.