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A million people worked to repair broken dikes as floods inundated China in 2002

Wednesday, June 9th 2021, 6:06 am - On this day in weather history, Dongting Lake overflowed and flooded areas of China.

Listen to The Weather Network's This Day in Weather History podcast on this topic, here.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features stories about people, communities, and events and how weather impacted them.


During the summer of 2002, torrential rains caused Dongting Lake in China to overflow. By the middle of June, the river's dikes were unable to contain the influx of rain, so water flooded the area. Several provinces were heavily impacted, including Hunan, Hubei, Shaanxi, and Sichuan.

Around 1 million people worked to help repair or block the dikes. Around 15,000 people from the armed forces and 930,00 civilians worked together to stack sandbags to stop the flow of water.

2002-08-28T000000Z 1927560286 RP3DRIDHMRAA RTRMADP 3 CHINA-FLOODS-LESSONS "Soldiers try to stop flood waters leaking around dykes in Xiangyin, in China's Hunan province, August 28, 2002. Analysts say China's winning campaign to hold back the waters of Dongting Lake is testimony to massive flood prevention efforts since thousands were killed in 1998 and to state media hype in a year when top officials face the pressures of a leadership reshuffle." Courtesy of REUTERS/China Photo ASW/PB

Around 1.5 million people were forced to evacuate as the floods destroyed around 600,000 homes.

The heavy rains also caused mudslides. Fluctuating depending on the source, but approximately 1,000 people died due to flood-related causes.

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Many people who died were farmers who were working in dry river banks that have previously experienced extreme drought.

In these remote areas, water, mud, and rocks came rushing down hills and killed those at the bottom.

It was reported that around 110 million people had been impacted by the floods. The flooding caused $3.132 billion (USD) worth of damage. In 1998, the Yangtze River flooded, killing 4,000 and causing $31.3 billion (USD) in damage.

The 1998 floods were a result of an El Nino weather event. The area is vulnerable to the effects of El Nino. To learn more about how they impact the area and about the 2002 flooding, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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Thumbnail: Courtesy of REUTERS/China Photo ASW/PB

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