Guangzhou Travel Guide

Discover Guangzhou Self Guided Book is written by Janvi Tours, formerly Guangzhou Private Tour Guide Janvi or Guangzhou Tour Guide Janvi

Written by J. C.
Published August 2018

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Home Travel Guide Introduction Of Guangzhou The Great Flood of 1915

The Great Flood of 1915

Guangzhou Great Flood 1915

In the Canton region, the title of the Year of the Great Flood; and it is to be hoped that this distinction will never be disputed in after years. Inundations, local and partial, there is every year; but never before, so far as authentic records show, has there been so widespread and destructive a flood as occurred this year from the 10th to the 20th July. The old city of Canton, being higher than the adjoining sections, was for the most part free from the flood; but the new city, the southern and western suburbs, and the Island of Shameen were submerged for 10 days to a depth of 6 to 10 feet; and the surrounding country for many miles in every direction was for the most part underwater, villages being laid low, crops entirely destroyed, property of all kinds swept away, and an untold number of lives lost.

In previous years, while the country adjoining the banks of the West River has suffered seriously from the overflowing of that river, Canton and its immediate vicinity have escaped serious damage. The disastrous flood of 1915, so far as it affected Canton, was due principally to the bursting of the dikes of the North River, whereby the waters of that river—which would otherwise have been carried between its banks to Samshui and thence into the West River, the Fatshan branch, and the network of streams which flow through the delta country to the sea—escaped, through immense breaches in the east bank, about 3o miles northwest from Canton, and overflowed the whole country to Canton and beyond. In Canton and Shameen the lower floors of houses were inundated to a depth of several feet, and locomotion was possible only by boats. At the height of the flood on the 13th of July, a fire broke out in the western suburb and, it being impossible to use the ordinary means of extinguishing it, spread rapidly until about 450 houses were destroyed, with great loss of life from burning and drowning.

After the subsidence of the waters no time was lost in planting new crops of rice and other food products; and while great deprivations and misery persisted for some weeks, during which food was dispensed to many thousands of people by charitable organizations, recovery from the great calamity seemed to come more quickly than would have been believed possible; and with the maturing of the new crops, which, however, were sadly cut down in amount by the long drought which followed the floods, the dire distress began to abate and life in the flooded regions to resume its normal course; but the ruins of hundreds of villages remained, mute witnesses of the calamity that had befallen the country, where, from the fragments of their houses, the people have made themselves tiny hovels of rudely heaped-up bricks, loosely covered over with sticks and straw, to serve as their only shelter from heat, cold and wet, until savings can be accumulated for rebuilding on the old sites.

The devastation wrought by this flood, though greater and farther reaching than that of any previous flood in recent times, is exceptional only in degree; for almost every year some parts of the delta are flooded, and more or less loss of life and destruction of crops and property occur. It is gratifying, therefore, to be able to record that serious, practical steps have been taken during the year towards some systematic treatment of the perennial flood menace. A conservancy office has been established at Canton under the direction of Admiral T'an, and early in the year a staff of engineers, foreign and Chinese, was engaged, and plans were made for conducting a detailed survey of certain critical reaches of the West River and the dike system, as well as a complete' hydrographic investigation, to determining whether any radical measures are feasible for detaining and equalizing the flow of water or providing new outlets to the sea and thus reducing the burden borne by the existing waterways.