Beijing learns a soggy summer lesson

Updated: 2013-06-12 02:21

(China Daily)

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On high alert

The city's emergency alert system was questioned by many residents on July 21 after they failed to receive warnings from the authorities, despite five alerts being issued that day.

This year, the alerts will be sent to residents by text messages from mobile service operators, television stations as well as through new media, including mobile phone apps and micro blogs, as part of the city's new emergency alert plan, unveiled last month.

Warnings will be delivered to residents within five minutes of the government issuing a red or orange alert, the most serious on a four-tier, color-coded weather warning system from the meteorological authorities. The less serious yellow and blue alerts will be delivered within 15 minutes.

The city has also increased storage of flood control materials.

The municipality's flood control and drought relief headquarters will be led by Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, with seven vice-mayors assuming the role of deputy commander-in-chief.

The headquarters is divided into seven sub-headquarters led by different government departments, including publicity, housing, transport, drainage, disaster prevention, tourism and general support.

"Lessons from last year also show that the coordination of government departments is key to ensuring that rescue forces are delivered to areas where they are most needed," said Wang Gang, the official with the commission of housing and urban-rural development.

"Different government departments should be given clear-cut roles in disasters, and messages and orders should be delivered in time and accurately," he added.

Key flood prevention areas, such as construction pits for subway lines, were asked to come up with their own emergency plans.

"We were asked to prepare for worst-case scenarios, such as how we would respond if the power is cut," said Cheng Guifeng, manager with a Beijing railway transit construction company.

"The key is self-rescue. It is impractical to wait to be rescued when the rain is really heavy."

The company was seriously affected last year when floodwater kept inundating a construction project at Xiju subway station in Fengtai district, posing a threat to subway lines operating nearby.

With the station being in a low-lying area, water pumps only managed to keep the water level stable, as the water pumped out kept coming back, Cheng said.

An Baijie contributed to this story.

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