Thunderstorm Exposes Deficiencies in Beijing’s Disaster Response Mechanisms

Caijing scrutinises the impact of recent torrential rain in Beijing, arguing that the city was ill-prepared for the so called “100-year” downpour, whose magnitude was in fact widely exaggerated.

On June 23, a torrential thunderstorm hit Beijing, claiming at least three lives and paralyzing parts of the city. The storm exposed problems in the city’s emergency response system such as poor coordination among various departments and responsibility gaps. The question remains as to who, if anyone, should be held accountable ….

In fact, Beijing possesses what one could say is an extensive flood emergency response system. But according to Beijing Association for Disaster Reduction Deputy Chairman Jin Lei, the city lacks a real disaster relief and mitigation agency. Jin said that flood control command posts at all levels only function as coordinating bodies and there is a lack of convergence in terms of contingency plans, with many plans even being “copied back and forth” between various departments.

As a result, the June 23 thunderstorm exposed various problems such as poor coordination among departments and responsibility gaps. At the same time, the city lacks a complete urban storm water system to respond to heavy storms. A clear picture of the city’s pipe network is needed to ensure the ability to estimate flood water levels around the city in advance ….

Authorities have not yet conducted an assessment of the total losses incurred from the disaster. Hence it not yet clear exactly how much impact this storm had on Beijing resident’s lives and property.

July 5, 2011 10:50 PM
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Categories: Society