At least 6.3 million people have been left homeless by floods since May this year in China. And the situation doesn't seem to be improving for some.
Heavy rains in September and early October in Shaanxi Province resulted in the most serious flooding in the province's recent history. It left 64 people dead, another 59 missing and hospitals, schools and thousands of homes destroyed. It also led to the evacuation of more than 95,000 people from their homes.
With the Great Wall having already seen a dusting of snow and meteorologists predicting that 2003 could be one of the coldest winters in recent history, the Chinese Red Cross is working hard with support from the Federation to distribute quilts as quickly as possible throughout all of the flood affected provinces.
For flood victims in two counties in Shaanxi province, that relief from some of the cold began last week. Purchased with funds donated by the U.S. embassy in Beijing, quilts were distributed among homeless flood victims in Hua and Hua Yin counties, two of the most seriously affected areas in the province.
As the distribution got underway, Juxiang Su, secretary general of the Chinese Red Cross, expressed concern at the plight of the flood victims -- and her pride in the local Red Cross staff who have been providing assistance in the form of food items and clothing to those who need it the most.
Adding that the Red Cross would continue its relief work for flood victims, which it is doing in collaboration with government authorities, she said staff and volunteers would carry forward the Red Cross spirit -- that of humanism and philanthropy.
As Juxiang Su toured the broken schools and remains of villages accompanied by a representative from U.S. embassy, she added, "we can see the confidence and determination of the local people facing the disaster."
One of those people was in the village of Zuo Jia -- 76-year-old Liu Ai Qin. As she was handed a quilt by the Chinese Red Cross secretary general, Liu Ai wept with relief.
A widow, she was living in the village with her two grown children and 400 other people when floodwaters destroyed both their homes and crops.