Discover China: "She-power" powers China's battle against floods
NANCHANG, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Li Xiumei puts on a bamboo hat and a raincoat, hops on her motorcycle, and heads towards the embankment to help fight floods.
Li, 50, is a resident of the township of Jiangxinzhou in Jiujiang City, east China's Jiangxi Province. Jiangxinzhou is a township-level settlement on a large sandbank in the mighty Yangtze River. It is the registered home of about 42,000 people, but many have left for jobs in big cities, leaving behind the elderly, women, and children.
China has entered its rainy season. Since June, continuous downpours have lashed large parts of southern China, and the waters of many rivers in the affected regions have exceeded warning levels.
The northern part of Jiangxi Province has experienced heavy downpours since July 6, with water rising significantly in local rivers and lakes. Around the 127-sq-km Jiangxinzhou, water rose to 22.81 meters on July 12, posing a grave danger to the settlement.
Facing a lack of manpower and devastating summer floods, many left-behind women in Jiangxinzhou, like Li, are joining soldiers to fight floods on the frontline, providing more power in the battle against the floods.
According to the local women's federation, Jiangxinzhou currently has about 3,000 women living in the township.
"Some women have come to patrol the banks, and some cook food for the people fighting on the frontline," she said. "We do what we can to help contain the floods."
Li has been fighting the floods for a week. She comes to the embankment on her motorcycle, a half-an-hour ride from her house in the township center.
"I am mainly in charge of carrying the sandbags," she said. "I work 12 hours a day, and then take a rest. We take turns to patrol the embankment."
Li is a farmer in Jiangxinzhou. On regular days, she attends to her grandchildren at home and toils in the fields. Years of farming has given her a strong physique, and Li said carrying the sandbags is not a problem for her.
"I used to grow cotton, but now cotton is not profitable anymore," she said. "I have now grown about a hectare of corn."
But in recent days, the heavy rains have inundated her cornfields.
"I only managed to save some corn," she said.
Besides carrying sandbags, she also fills the bags with sand, and patrols the embankment to see if there is any leakage.
"I will call the authorities if I find any leaks," she said. "It is very important, because any leakage could cause the embankment to crash."
Li also works at night. She patrols the embankment with a flashlight.
"I am not scared, because many other people are also patrolling," she said. "But the mosquitos and bugs are really annoying."
Li said she has been bitten by mosquitoes many times.
When she feels tired, Li takes a little nap in the stations along the embankment. These are small houses with simple items such as a bed, a table, bottled water, and instant noodles.
"I can't sleep very well in the stations, because I worry about the floods," she said.
In the past week, the most unforgettable moment came on the night of July 12, when the water from the Yangtze exceeded the warning mark.
"The water rose to 22.81 meters, and everywhere I went, it was water," she said.
Li carried sandbags for the whole night to stop the water from flooding in.
"Everyone in the village came over to help," she said. "I did not sleep at all."
But Li said all the hard work was worth it.
"Fighting the floods and protecting our homeland is our responsibility," she said. Enditem