leftrightTuesday, June 17, 2008
How many floods must there be, before we know it too late? The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. Are you now convinced that the climate change has an impact on the environment. Below are three articles about flooding in India, USA and China all reported on the same day.

How many more floods do we have to see before we do something about climate change? The answer my friend is in your hand.

About a million people have already been displaced by flooding in neighbouring Guangxi, and 57 people killed across southern China by torrential rains. -- PHOTO: XINHUA

June 17, 2008 Straits Times

China orders emergency work as floods ravage south

BEIJING - CHINA ordered emergency work to strengthen swollen dykes and reservoirs on Tuesday and evacuated tens of thousands of people as large swathes of the south reeled under their worst storms in decades.
Officials said more than 40 rivers nationwide were exceeding their warning levels with torrential rain continuing to pound the densely populated region.

The civil affairs ministry said the death toll in nine southern provinces and regions had reached 63 on Tuesday, with 13 missing, since the latest bout of rains began pummelling the area in early June.

However, state-run Xinhua news agency said the flooding could have resulted in more than 200 dead or missing, citing the National Meteorological Centre.

The centre declined comment when contacted by reporters.

'We must remain clear-headed and not under-estimate the serious nature of the current flood and disaster situation,' Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said, in comments on the website of the state flood prevention headquarters.

In the prosperous Pearl River Delta region, parts of central Guangzhou and Shenzhen were under water and some of the tributaries were seeing their worst floods on record.

The China Daily quoted the civil affairs ministry as saying the storms and floods were the worst in decades.

Officials also warned that the north could fall victim to the freak weather patterns.

More than 1.66 million people have been evacuated in the hardest-hit areas, with large swathes of farmland under water and economic losses totalling 14.5 billion yuan (S$2.8 billion), the civil affairs ministry said.

Vice Premier Hui ordered the immediate evacuation of people in danger areas and the strengthening of river dykes and reservoirs.

'We have to limit the loss of life and property to the lowest extent possible,' Mr Hui said.

'We cannot underestimate the arduous nature of fighting the flooding and warding off disaster.'

According to the flood headquarters, waters exceeded warning levels by 6.8 metres on the Xijiang river in Guangxi's Wuzhou city, where three rivers meet before flowing down into the Pearl River delta.

Rains were expected to continue in the region this week.

Guangxi's world-famous tourist city of Guilin was also under threat, while waters in towns and villages in the vicinity had reached the rooftops and many roads were cut off by rising flood waters or rain-induced landslides.

In inland provinces such as Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Sichuan, rains were also forecast to continue throughout the week, ensuring that downstream rivers would remain high, the state meteorological bureau said.

In the north, the government urged the bolstering of dykes and reservoirs along the Yellow River, known as the 'cradle of Chinese civilisation' and home to millions of urban dwellers and farmers.

'National flood prevention and relief efforts are entering a crucial phase,' the flood headquarters said in a statement.

'According to the water and meteorological departments, we could be seeing torrential rains and flooding along the Yellow River.'

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao ordered an increase in efforts to prevent rain-induced landslides in Sichuan province, where an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in mid-May left 87,000 dead or missing and millions homeless.

'As aftershocks continue to hit and as rains markedly increase at the start of the rainy season, we must pay close attention,' Mr Wen said.

Up to 70,000 people at the quake's epicentre in Wenchuan county have been evacuated in recent days from mountainous areas which are at risk of rockslips and landslides, state press said. -- AFP

June 17, 2008 Straits Times

China flood risk worsens as rivers threaten levees

BEIJING - THE risk of flooding in southern China's Guangdong province could worsen as a full moon, more rain and converging rivers threaten levees, the Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday citing local flood control officials.
About a million people have already been displaced by flooding in neighbouring Guangxi, and 57 people killed across southern China by torrential rains.
Run-off in the Xijiang and Beijiang rivers was much higher than normal at their junction in Foshan city, Xinhua said, with more rain expected upstream.
Flooding has struck as far north as Longnan, on the southern tip of Gansu province, where 365 died and 1.8 million were left homeless after a devastating earthquake last month.
Gansu is still awaiting 110,000 tents and nearly 100,000 temporary housing units, to shelter the millions still sleeping outdoors five weeks after the earthquake, vice-governor Feng Jianshen told reporters in Beijing on Monday. -- REUTERS


FROM FERTILITY TO FUTILITY: Thousands of farmers in Iowa have seen their farms swamped and lost crops and livestock as freak weather cause massive flooding in the state. -- PHOTO: AFP

June 17, 2008 Straits Time
Iowa corn-founded by floods
No relief in sight as overflowing rivers prevent planting, spoil what's sown
NEWHALL (IOWA) - HERE, in some of the best soil in the world, the stunted stalks of farmer Dave Timmerman's newly-planted corn are wilting in what sometimes look more like padi fields than the plains, the sunshine glinting off pools of water.
Although time is running out, Mr Timmerman has yet to plant all of his soya bean crop because the waterlogged soil cannot support his footsteps, much less heavy machinery.

His small farm has been flooded four times in the past month by a tributary of the Cedar River, which overflowed its banks last week, causing catastrophic damage in nearby Cedar Rapids and other towns and farmsteads across the state.

At a time when corn should be almost waist-high in the United States' No. 1 corn state, Iowa has lost 530,000ha of corn and 810,000ha of soya beans. Some 16 per cent of the state's 10 million ha of tillable farmland is underwater.

'In the lean years, we had beautiful crops but they weren't worth much,' Mr Timmerman said, surveying the land that his family has tended for generations.

'Now, with commodity prices sky high, Mother Nature is throwing us all these curve balls. I'm 42 years old and these are by far the poorest crops I've ever seen.'

All across the sodden, rain-soaked Mid-west, there are thousands - many of them other farmers - who are a lot worse off than Mr Timmerman.

POOR YIELD: With much of Iowa's corn crop ruined by flooding, prices are likely to skyrocket. -- PHOTO: AFP

Since the beginning of this month, first tornadoes and then heavy rain and flooding, have cut a watery path across the region. And officials fear that worse flooding may lie ahead as rain-gorged tributaries spill into the Mississippi River system, threatening scores of other communities.

But the plight of Mr Timmerman and thousands of other farmers who have seen their fields turn into flood plains goes beyond the Mid-west.

Last week, the price of corn broke through the US$7 (S$9.60) a bushel price-point on the commodities futures market for the first time, and soya beans rose sharply too.

Besides Iowa, the heavy-farming states of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota have suffered an unusual level of flooding this year.

Soaring global demand in addition to the increased use of corn for ethanol, an alternative fuel, have shrunk the worldwide supply of staples that are the core of practically every continent's diet.

Meanwhile, the price of oil has jumped, increasing the cost of producing crops, feeding livestock and causing an overall inflation of grocery bills here and abroad, sparking riots and protests in at least two dozen countries.

'The American farmer, we feed the world,' Mr Timmerman said.

'We're going to be short on corn and we're going to be short on soya beans.

'It's heart-wrenching.'


June 17, 2008 Starits Times
Waiting for some sense of normality

FLOOD-RAVAGED residents of the US mid-western state of Iowa were to start cleaning up yesterday, but officials warned it could be two weeks before river levels returned to normal.
More than 11 million people in nine mid-western states were affected by the overflowing of the Iowa, Mississippi and Cedar rivers as well as the extreme weather of recent weeks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

Iowa was by the far the hardest hit: 83 of its 99 counties have been declared disaster areas and more than 4.8 million sandbags have been laid down to try to stem the tide. Damages were estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

'The waters will recede. Our citizens will rebuild and return to their homes. And Iowans will meet this challenge with optimism and resilience,' Governor Chet Culver said on Sunday.

Officials put the death toll in Iowa at three, while harsh weather claimed five other lives elsewhere in the US Mid-west.

The swollen Iowa River, which bisects Iowa City, was topping out at about 9.6m - 46cm below earlier predictions. But it still posed a lingering threat, and was not expected to begin receding until yesterday night.



Flood victims transport their belongings as they try to cross a flooded paddy field in Lakhimpur district, about 400 km east of the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati. Heavy rains flooded a number of villages in the district, bringing the flood water frm the Hingora River onto the national highway, and damaging numerous roads. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Straits Times, June 17, 2008
Floods ravage India's north-east, thousands homeless

GUWAHATI - MONSOON rains swept across India's remote north-east, forcing hundreds of thousands of villagers from their flooded homes and killing at least 30 people, officials said on Tuesday.

The monsoon arrived at least two weeks early in northern India, bringing respite to its baking plains, but in the north-eastern state of Assam it swamped about 500 villages in waist-deep water, leaving about 300,000 people homeless.
Assam accounts for about 55 per cent of India's tea production. Officials said the rains had not affected tea trade.

The region reported the first fatalities from the monsoon with a series of landslides, floods and building collapses killing at least 30 people since the weekend, officials in Assam and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh state said.
The casualties included 13 people who drowned in overnight flooding in Assam.
'The (13) deaths were reported from North Lakhimpur town,' an Assam police official said.

Gushing water also washed away portions of highways and bridges at several places in Assam's Lakhimpur district, the worst-hit area.

'The situation turned worse because there has been erosion of embankments at 13 places,' said Mr Uken Pegu, an official with the Water Resources Department in Lakhimpur.

Authorities have set up temporary shelters for the homeless, but some complained there were not enough.

Many people camped on highways in makeshift shelters with whatever belongings they could save from the floodwaters.

'Every year people have to suffer and the government wakes up only when there is flooding,' said Mr Ramesh Pegu, a student leader. 'There is no long-term rescue and rehabilitation plan for the affected people.' The regional weather office warned of more showers in the next 24 hours in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. -- REUTERS

[Mayflower] [9:09 PM]




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