Sunday, 22 July 2012

Flooding Chaos in Beijing

People trying to wade through the flooded streets of Beijing
For the most part it doesn't rain much in Beijing.

But when it does, the entire capital is paralyzed mainly because there are hardly any drainage systems in place.

As a results roads are flooded with water and cars gingerly make their way along the roads, unsure of how to navigate through a few inches of water.

So I can imagine Beijing is slowly getting back to normal, having experienced the heaviest rainfall in 60 years, killing at least 37 people.

The deluge began on Saturday afternoon and continued late into the night.

And because the runways were flooded, the planes could not take off, cancelling 500 flights and stranding some 80,000 passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport.

On average the city received 170mm of rainfall, though Fangshan district got 460mm, according to Xinhua news agency. It added 14,500 people had to be evacuated from outlying areas.

Interestingly the subway was working fine, though with heavier passenger traffic as people abandoned their cars and buses to use this mode of transport to get home.

While some complained on Sina Weibo or the Chinese version of Twitter that the government should have prepared ahead of time with pumps and other facilities, what could the city do anyway?

It all goes back to infrastructure, and if there is no proper drainage system in place, where would you pump the water to anyway?

However if Beijing is going to experience more rainfall -- due to climate change? -- then it better start thinking about fixing up its drainage system now.

While today the skies cleared up, the Beijing municipal website is forecasting more storms and heavy rains which means umbrella sales are going to do big business.

The upside is that the air quality in the Chinese capital hasn't been better probably since the Summer Games in 2008.

Might be a good time to take a few extra deep breaths...

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