Flood Brings Out Beijing’s Digital Samaritans (Update)

Update (August 23, 2012): The Fangshan authorities reported on July 23 that no elders died in assisted living facilities due to the flood [zh].

Netizens have reached out a digital hand to those left stranded by Beijing’s torrential rains. There are over 7.4 million posts on Weibo on the subject (北京 + 暴雨), many of them calls for help—and answers. From a CDT Chinese screenshot:

cellifa: I live near Tiantan East Gate. If anyone nearby needs to rest, you can come to my place. No gender preference, 2-3 people, direct message me.

cellifa:家在天坛东门附近,附近有朋友需要休息可以来我家,男女均可,两至三人,需要的请直接私信联系。

J0j0JiaoJiao: Three to four girls can stay at my place. I have a hot shower, food, clothes and shoes. Any girls or older people who aren’t afraid of cats and dogs can stay here for the night. Send me a direct message and I’ll pick you up in front of the Xuantechenguang Police Station.

J0j0娇娇:三四女生能住下,热水洗澡食物衣鞋都有,不怕猫狗的女生和老人可以安置。私信,炫特晨光警局在她楼下,私信联系可以去接人

XiaoqianME: My office is at Zuojiazhuang A2 Beijing Friendship Garden 1-6H. We have water, snacks, TV, computers, wifi, beds, sofas, Sanguo Sha and hot showers! All for free! For real! I’m not a bad guy! If anyone is stuck nearby feel free to duck out to my place! This is what a Beijinger can do! I will wait at my computer all night! Don’t be a stranger! And I hope that people on the road are able to get home safely. @NumberTail Help spread the word.

小 谦ME:本人公司在左家庄街甲2号北京国际友谊花园1号楼6H,公司有水有零食有电视有电脑有WIFI有床有沙发有三国杀能洗热水澡!全部免费提供!不要炒作!不是坏人!困在附近的可以过来避难!都是北京人就想做点儿自己能做的!我会通宵守在电脑旁!不用跟我客气!同时祝赶路的朋友平安 @数字尾巴 大叔帮扩散

UncleFlower: Already contacted them, they can go now.  // @Lonely_Epoch: I have a friend stuck at Chengshou Road who needs to get back to Lianri Ludao. Can anyone help her? One little girl and one adult, riding an electric bike, going in the direction of Lianri Ludao. Her cell phone number is 15175088361. Thank you!

如花二大爷:这个已经联系过,已经能走了 // @孤单_纪元:我一位朋友被困成寿路一带,要回恋日绿岛,现在应该在成寿路附近,有人能去帮帮她吗?一晚上了,一个小女孩和一个大人,骑电动车,方向是恋日绿岛,谢谢大家了。她手机号15175088361.谢谢!

While some embrace those in need, others have taken advantage of the chaos. Weibo user @SuYe reports hotel rip-offs, while @YanYaobin implores the government to follow the lead of ordinary citizens:

SuYe: I drove two people who had arrived from Russia to Zhongguancun. As soon as we arrived at their place, the rain stopped. They said, “Without you guys, we would be finished. Other people at least have cover, we have nothing.” We were very happy, even though it cost us a lot of gas :-) Hotels at Sanyuan Bridge jacked up their prices to over 2000 yuan a night, and some even dragged people to the Asian Games Village. There was a taxi driver who cursed at us from Sanyuan Bridge, “Messing with other people’s business!” Good luck to you all.

苏 椰:送了两位从俄罗斯回来的人要去中关村。我们刚送完回来,雨已经停了。他们说:“没你们,我们就完了,别人还有毯自,我们啥都没有。”我们都很高兴,虽 然损失了许多油 :-) 三元桥坐地涨价到2000多的酒店,还有三元桥上那个超高价拉人去亚运村,还骂我们是“吃饱了撑的”的出租车司机,祝你们好运。

YanYaobin: Netizens from Wangjing started a car team to take some of the 80,000 people stuck at Beijing Airport home for free. A lot of residents got in their own cars and into the street to help people back home. This is the Beijing spirit! You bring warmth to this night of pain. At this moment, I am seriously concerned about the 62,000-plus government-owned cars. Where are you? Do you have the guts to get out there and do something? I’m betting on you rushing out and filling the streets. We won’t curse you tonight!

中 国经营报宴耀斌:为了首都机场滞留的八万人,望京的网友们自发组成车队免费接送。北京很多的私家车主将车开上街头,帮助大家回家。这才是北京精神!你们是 这个疼痛雨夜的温暖!此刻,我无比牵挂北京的62000多辆公车,你们在哪儿?你们敢开出来发挥一下吗?我就赌你们就是一拥而上,占据所有车道,今夜,俺 们也不会骂你!

At least 37 have died in the floods, including a number of police officers. This post about one of these officers on the official Weibo of the city Public Security Bureau (PSB) has been reposted and commented on over 593,000 times:

PeacefulBeijing: On July 21, Beijing experienced its heaviest rainfall in over 60 years. The municipal PSB received many calls for help. At noon, Comrade Li Fanghong, chief of the Yanshan Branch Xiangyang Road Police Station, started to lead rescue operations in the rising water of Fenghuangting. He saved more than 50 people. At 5:20 p.m. Comrade Li went into the water again to rescue more. He touched a fallen electrical wire and made the ultimate sacrifice.

平 安北京:2012年7月21日,北京遭遇60年以来最大降雨,北京市公安局接到大量群众求助报警。燕山分局向阳路派出所所长李方洪同志从中午开始就带领民 警奋战在辖区积水严重的凤凰亭村,先后救起50余名被困群众。17时20分许,当李方洪同志再次冲入水中救助群众时,被一根落入水中的电线击倒,光荣牺牲。

Individual heroism mingles with stories of systemic neglect. The state-run newspaper Global Times has acknowledged that Beijing’s under-built sewers are in part to blame for the mayhem, though it goes on to suggest “overhauling the entire network may be unfeasible, as it will take time and an enormous injection of cash.” On Twitter, Beijinger @MissXQ shares dire stories and photos, including reports that more than 200 senior citizens died in an assisted living facility in Fangshan, a poor district hit hard by the floods:

Tea Leaf Nation has translated more Weibo comments on the flood, while Foreign Policy has created a slide show of the devastation. Read more on the floods and the aftermath from CDT.