Beijing - Saturday's flood
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jul 23, 2012 6:35 PM Last Post By: Tokheim
Jul 22, 2012 8:15 PM
Beijing - Saturday's floodI’m surprised nobody is talking about the horrendous rain and flooding in Beijing on Saturday with some 40 fatalities reported (news reports all differ).
Although I firmly prefer living in Beijing over Shanghai, I have to admit they usually do things right down in Shanghai when it comes to city infrastructure. The Shanghainese get annoyed at inefficiency and incompetence in a New York minute and aren’t shy to complain (they’ve become used to the higher standard). When I lived there, the sewer and flood drainage system always performed with efficiency.
But Beijing, .........we all know a simple rain quickly floods the underpasses within minutes (no sewage flood pumps?) The whole system is probably 50 years old (or more) and needs to be gutted.
Jul 22, 2012 8:32 PM
1Yeah, it was bad, similar to sustained tropical storm rain-like conditions. Especially since it was so hard and for so many hours. I was able to cancel all my plans and hunker down at home for the day. Felt really sorry for anybody having to be out in it, and I knew the airport would be a disaster zone by about 3-4 pm.
I'm not the biggest fan of Beijing infrastructure and they should have done a better job at designing certain locations, but I can also say (as a Florida native who's seen plenty of heavy rainfalls and tropical storms at the rate of 4-5 inches of rain per hour for a number of hours), that there's not a city on earth I've seen that can drain away that much water falling that quickly. Not one city. Here in the near Chaoyang side (Dongzhimen area), we had ponding up to a few inches deep in spots during the deluge, but everything drained and gone before daybreak Sunday. Other older parts of the city had it worse. If you've ever lived in Bangkok during monsoon season, you'll know it's just as bad if not worse....and it doesn't drain away quickly there!
I've heard quite a number of the deaths being reported are in the outlying mountain districts of Beijing due to landslides/house collapses. And then there are some stupid people who insisted on trying to drive through deep water, which you never do ANYWHERE in the world. Also some electrocutions, which is very worrisome (though not surprising) and that really needs some investigation.
Jul 22, 2012 9:39 PM
2I'm also from the east coast. Hurricanes and nor'easters love us (unfortunately). We have auxilary pumping stations the city brings on line during severe rains.
Shanghai wisely buried all their utility lines (in 2001 if I recall correctly), so downed power lines and electricution are rare. When you get right down to it, Beijing's infrastructure is horribly managed. From bus stop locations to subway station design to sewage and flood water systems, they need some experts from Shanghai (or Hong Kong) to come up and show them how its done.
Most of the deaths were reported as drownings. Why in the world were people attempting to drive their cars thru that deep water. Submarines they are not.
Jul 22, 2012 11:00 PM
3Whilst horrendous rains and subsequent flooding (and deaths) were certainly quite unexpected and shocking, I suppose when it comes to overall infrastructure in Beijing this is just another moment where I shrug my shoulders and dismiss it all as yet another example of the city's excellent town planning (sarcasm intended).
Fortunately for me I was in a fairly central location, unfortunately for our 'black cab' driver he blew a tire over a drain cover concealed under two feet of water. On the plus side, Sunday was absolutely gorgeous and today is not too bad either.
JieJie is right - there was a lot of water, and to be fair it was the heaviest for sixty years - so it's hardly a frequent occurrence to be making a priority. To the credit of Beijing's drainage system, much of the urban flooding subsided a few hours after rains stopped.. it wasn't complete blockage. That said, growing up in Hong Kong where T8 was a norm... i've only seen these problems out in the New Territories, years ago.
The issue of Beijing infrastructure runs deeper than just lack of knowledge though, hence I now just shrug my shoulders. A friend from MTR (Hong Kong) who worked on Beijing's Line 4 when it was in construction stage told me how the station designs were still carried out by the "government architects" ; MTR had very little say in the overall construction (hence interchange is still ghastly). That, and it's only handed over for them to manage. The Beijing government only have interest in giving minimal involvement so they can take what they can - but maintain a firm grip. That's fine (knowledge transfer etc.), except the northern mentality prevents the sincerity of really co-operating to benefit from outside help. Shanghai have long sought outside help for a variety of projects and are generally more open minded... here, I get the impression everyone has a "we can do it" approach, except of course they can't. There should be no shame in seeking help and learning with sincerity.
I recall returning from vacation two winters ago to be greeted by heaviest snow in x years : the airport express arrives at Terminal 3 and doors don't open since they're frozen shut. The solution was to employ an army of staff to hammer the doors until the ice shook off. Heated doors in Beijing, where it reaches minus 10+? Nooo.... who'd ever have thought of that! Next time you're at Dongzhimen Station alighting from the Airport Express railway, try to count how many people notice the elevator vs. realising too late they're doomed to carrying their suitcase up a flight of stairs.
I do prefer Beijing over Shanghai, but its times like this when I have my occasional "what the hell am I doing here?" moments....
Jul 23, 2012 1:23 AM
Jul 23, 2012 4:39 AM
5There were reportedly laowai's swimming in flooded carparks etc. in Beijing... yet I can't help but think of all the lovely things floating around which they're swimming in. Rice, gutter oil, and garbage - sounds like a party!
Jul 23, 2012 9:00 AM
Jul 23, 2012 6:28 PM
Jul 23, 2012 6:35 PM
8You are exactly right!
"Beijing..........the northern mentality prevents the sincerity of really cooperating to benefit from outside help" whereas "Shanghai have long sought outside help for a variety of projects and are generally more open minded. There should be no shame in seeking help and learning with sincerity."
The design of Beijing's subway and light rail stations is horrible. Was the design approach to be "illogical at all times"? To make it as user-unfriendly as possible?
And don't even get me started on making bus connections from subway stations. Imagine the worst way possible, and there you go.
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