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.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty