HUIZHOU, China — As the flood waters subside, life and work have started to resume in the factory towns of the Pearl River Delta — but the damage remains.
"I've been living in the area for many years, but I've never seen anything like this flood," said Yang Dingkuan, a construction worker in one of the dozens of manufacturing towns outside of Shenzhen. "It's going to take a long time for this place to get back to normal."
Yang, who was helping to build a house, pointed to landslides and flood pools dotting the countryside, pausing on a newly built concrete factory workers' dormitory that had cracked vertically in half during the torrential rains that pounded the region during the past week. The dorm, he said, will have to be demolished and built anew.
The recent floods, the worst to hit this part of China in half a century, killed at least 63 people in the region and left more than $2 billion in direct economic losses in their wake. Though most factories in the region were cranking back into operation this week after electricity was restored, factory floors mopped up and machinery dried out, some 2.5 million acres of farmland were submerged, according to Chinese government figures. The government also said an estimated 7.5 million people have been directly affected by flooding so far this year.
That vast damage to farms is already adding to China's inflation troubles. Shopkeeper He Binlan said vegetable prices have been multiplied by three or four times since the rains hit, adding immense financial burdens to local residents already struggling to replace lost homes and property. China's national inflation rate has grown at record levels in recent months, rising 7.7 percent in May.
"I don't think the prices will go down soon, because the farmers can't grow new crops that quickly," said He.
The damage to factories seems more limited. While many workshops in the area have been closed for lack of orders due to the rise in the value of the Chinese yuan and other economic pressures, other plants reported only temporary impact on their production from the flooding. But a few major producers — including Honda, which operates large plants in southern China — have reported serious disruptions.The larger economic impact may come from the sheer human scale of the flooding. More than one million people across southern China were initially evacuated because of the floods and hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged. Home and flood insurance are virtually nonexistent in rural China, so the rebuilding is apt to consume vast government resources.
For now, flood victims aren't sure how they'll rebuild. The family of Zhang Ruiliang fled to the second floor of their shop/home as the waters rose to about 7 feet inside their house on the night of June 13. The rain was pouring in so hard and fast they could do little but watch as the torrents carried their furniture away.
"We don't even have chairs to sit on now," said Zhang's wife, Ling Lou.
As for what's next, Zhang said the family is waiting to hear from the government whether they will get any assistance with restoring their home. The inside is pungent with mildew and half of their possessions are simply gone.
"It's all up to us now," said Zhang. "There's not anyone to help us and we haven't heard of any government compensation."
The severe flooding comes at a bad time for China, which is accustomed to heavy spring and summer flooding. But the storms that struck the Pearl River Delta were particularly devastating and followed on the heels of what now seems to be an unstoppably bad year for the country.
The New Year opened with freak snowstorms in January that halted production, logistics and passenger travel across a wide swath of the south during the most important holiday of the year. In March, turmoil in Tibet cast a harsh new spotlight on the government's human rights record. Then on May 12 China suffered its worst natural disaster in decades with a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan Province that killed at least 70,000 people.
With the floods, many across China are sighing in agreement that 2008 — the year of the country's first Olympics — is indeed a very bad year.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye