Floods have devastated several cities in the Pearl River Delta of southern China following unprecedented rains last week, raising alarms about the area’s flood defenses amid a rise in extreme weather events. Rescue operations on Monday in Guangdong Province saw the deployment of boats and helicopters to evacuate residents, including many elderly, from their water-logged homes.

Guangdong Battles Its Worst Floods

Recognized as a global manufacturing hub, Guangdong regularly braces for summer floods. However, the province witnessed its worst rainfall in sixty years in June 2022, leading to mass evacuations. This year, intense and continuous rainfall kicked off the annual flood season sooner than anticipated.

In Qingyuan, a city to the north of Guangzhou, significant flooding over the weekend stirred anxiety among locals. Although the flooding was not as severe as in 2022, the fear of worsening conditions loomed large. Factory worker Song Xiaowei observed some residents moving their belongings to higher ground in anticipation of more floods to come.

The flooding caused the nearby Bei River to overflow, submerging houses and shops. Videos on social media showed rescuers navigating through neck-high waters to reach those trapped. Local Lin Xiuzheng commented on the increased scale of flooding compared to previous years.

Climate Change Exacerbates Weather Patterns

Scientists link the unpredictable weather patterns in China to global warming, which has led to simultaneous record-breaking rainfall and droughts, putting additional strain on the country’s economy. In April, new precipitation records were set in Guangdong, with cities like Shaoguan and Zhaoqing significantly affected.

Despite the widespread disruptions, Guangdong reported no fatalities by Monday morning, although 11 people were missing. The floods resulted in substantial property damage in Southern China, with 36 houses collapsing and a direct economic loss estimated at about 19.4 million dollars.

Major local suppliers to international companies reported that their operations were largely unaffected by the floods. Firms such as Camelot PCB and Polyrocks Chemical confirmed that their production and supply chains were still operational.

Ongoing Challenges and Relief Efforts

With rivers remaining swollen and water levels above safety limits, the Chinese military has been called in for road clearance efforts. The excessive rainfall, two to three times the normal amount for this period, has kept rescue and relief operations on high alert.

The weather showed a slight improvement on Monday, leading to the temporary closure of some schools. Meteorologists have linked the intense rainfall to a stronger-than-normal subtropical high, which has drawn in more moist air from the seas, exacerbating the situation. With thunderstorms expected to return later in the week, the region remains watchful and prepared for more challenges ahead.

Image Source: NBC News