Hero uses his boat to save hun­dreds

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By FENG ZHIWEI in Chang­sha and YANG WANLI in Bei­jing

A 34-year-old man who saved more than 300 peo­ple from ris­ing flood­wa­ters is a hero in his home­town.

In Nan­ping vil­lage, Hu­nan province, Tang Wei is now a widely known name, and he’s re­ceiv­ing a lot of praise. For many, he was lit­er­ally a life­saver.

Heavy rains from late June to early July caused flood­ing along sev­eral trib­u­taries of the mid­dle and lower Yangtze River. The level of the Xiangjiang River in Chang­sha, Hu­nan province, stood above 38.3 me­ters at 11:42 am on June 30, well past the warn­ing level of 36 me­ters, ac­cord­ing to the Hu­nan Hy­dro­log­i­cal Bureau.

The rain trig­gered flash floods, dam­aged moun­tain roads and saturated the ground, rais­ing the risk of land­slides. Fifty kilo­me­ters north­west of Chang­sha, Nan­ping found it­self in the cen­ter of the flood zone.

Early in the morn­ing on July 1, Tang was busy work­ing at a home-dec­o­ra­tion com­pany when he re­ceived a call from his mother, who was shout­ing for help. He rushed home to find wa­ter at the doorstep.

For­tu­nately, his fam­ily had al­ready been trans­ferred to safety. But in­stead of re­triev­ing valu­able prop­erty in the house, Tang turned to save other res­i­dents.

Sit­u­ated in a low part of a moun­tain­ous area, Nan­ping ex­pe­ri­ences flood­ing al­most ev­ery year. In 2013, Tang spent 10,000 yuan ($1,470) to buy a boat for emer­gen­cies. A few days ago, he used it to save more than 300 peo­ple.

Tang Guobin, 70, whose fam­ily of four were all saved by Tang Wei, has seen many flood sea­sons.

“I’ve never seen such heavy flood­ing in my whole life. Floods do hap­pen, but in most cases it doesn’t pose a threat to our lives or prop­erty,” he said.

Days be­fore, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment had sent alerts, but most res­i­dents didn’t think flood­ing would be heavy and many re­mained at home.

Zhao Jian­hua, 54, stayed home with his wife un­til there was no es­cape. They were saved by Tang Wei 30 min­utes be­fore their house col­lapsed.

“We were standing on a nar­row wooden board on the roof and were shak­ing with fear and cold. If Tang hadn’t been there, it might have been our last day,” Zhao said.

From 9 am on July 1 un­til 4 am the next day, Tang and three of his friends worked to res­cue peo­ple — from in­fants to the el­derly — who were trapped by the flood.

While hun­dreds were res­cued, Tang’s own house was soaked, in­clud­ing ap­pli­ances and a mo­tor­bike that had cost him a year’s salary.

In the 18 hours of res­cue and re­lief work, Tang ate only a few cook­ies and drank a lit­tle wa­ter. Res­i­dents said he has put the in­ter­ests of oth­ers above his own since he joined the Com­mu­nist Party of China in 2011.

Speak­ing of his ac­tions dur­ing the flood, Tang was mod­est: “I grew up here. Our vil­lage is small. We look at each other as fam­ily mem­bers. To save them is just an in­stinct that needs no ex­pla­na­tion.”

Con­tact the writ­ers at yang­wanli@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

WEN XINZHENG / CHINA DAILY

Tang Wei stands be­side his boat, which he used to carry more than 300 peo­ple to safety dur­ing a flood last month in Nan­ping vil­lage, Ningx­i­ang city, Hu­nan province.

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