Do you know how many recorded natural disaster events there have been today? And how much there was 50 years ago? Statistically there were 77 global natural disaster events in the year of 1970. In 2019 there were 361. (If we are speaking of floods in-particular, 170 floods were recorded in 2019, 85 were results of extreme weather.
In this essay, I would like to discuss severe flooding that recently happened in Zhengzhou, Henan, China. Zhengzhou is a city on the banks of the Yellow River and is surrounded by mountains causing moist air to rise and intense rainfall. On July 17, an extreme storm and rainfall occurred and lasted for days, resulting in severe floods in Zhengzhou, paralyzing subways, buses, road, air traffics. Based on a report “Post Event Report: Henan Flood – July 17-21” during this period, over 6000 villages were damaged by floods, the central and northern parts of the province had more than 400 millimeters (15.78 inches) of rainfall, exceeding 1000 millimeters (39 inches) in some areas. 32 national weather stations reported the floods broke the highest record. A year’s worth of rain poured down on the city streets in over just three days. The report indicated that, “Global climate change will likely increase the frequency of extreme precipitation events causing catastrophic flooding”. Because of the nature of geography of Zhengzhou, the government has invested around $80 million dollar since 2016 to build a Sponge City in order to make Zhengzhou more resilient to floods. However, the extreme floods almost paralyzed the whole city, especially the subway system. It killed over 300 people, tragically 14 died when they were stuck in the subway underground.
This so called “once in a thousand year” natural disaster brings up many warning and concerns about extreme weather and the future of natural disasters around the world. “We know these big events are going to come along, and just don’t know when” James Griffiths, a hydrologist in New Zealand said.