Video footage emerged on social media last week of Henan residents descending en masse on public spaces, working together to protect their homes after parts of the province were hit with devastating floods that have left 63 people dead, five missing, and over 900,000 displaced.
Short clips on TikTok-like app Douyin show crowds of people assembling to fill white plastic bags with sand in Xinxiang, a prefecture-level city of more than 5.7 million people in China’s northern Henan province, to help stop more flooding.
According to a widely circulated Associated Press story, people living in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, were leaving their places of shelter as the floodwaters receded to “[shovel] mud from their homes and [haul] away wrecked cars.”
Volunteers prepare sandbags along Xinxiang’s Pingyuan Road. Screengrab via Douyin
One Weibo user recounted a scene from Xinxiang, where local men voluntarily boarded rescue vehicles to assist in recovery efforts, writing, “A lot of people at the intersection got onto rescue vehicles without hesitation, men went to the front line, and women stayed behind and were in charge of food and logistics.”
“After the crisis, friends from all over the country actively supported Xinxiang. As Xinxiang people, we also actively became involved in the rescue work, trying our best to do something to aid post-disaster reconstruction,” wrote another.
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Li Yan, a Xinxiang resident, was among the volunteers last week helping to transport and install sandbag fortifications to contain and divert floodwaters.
“Of course, everyone saw the situation and volunteered to help. Some carried sand while others handed out gloves, towels and drinking water. There were so many women helping the efforts, everyone wanted to defend their homes,” Li told RADII via WeChat. “Disasters bring people together, and volunteers were given free meals and equipment.”
Henan residents are not alone in their efforts to repair and rebuild their communities, with the who’s who of China’s tech industry – Tencent, Alibaba and Bytedance – donating money to relief and recovery efforts.
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Chinese shoe manufacturer Erke generated considerable attention for its donation of supplies worth 50M RMB (roughly 7.7M USD). The company, which had previously faced a downturn in revenue in recent years, announced its aid contribution on Weibo on July 21.
The post quickly attracted more than 9.5 million likes and over 270,000 comments.
“You support the nation, so the people strongly salute you. You support disaster areas, and I support domestic products,” wrote one netizen under Erke’s Weibo announcement, presumably before buying a fresh new pair of Erke kicks.
Many netizens flocked to purchase Erke shoes in support of the company, with specific shoe models completely sold out on the brand’s Taobao store.
Click here for more of our coverage on the Henan floods.
Cover image via Unsplash
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