It’s been raining steady and hard for a couple days now, on top of several big storms over the past week. China Daily provides some images of the scene today. China has historically been prone to floods, and major disasters often signal the end of a dynasty. But people hardly seem concerned with today’s high water.
Being a semi-developed giant city, Wuhan isn’t really set up to dispose of its stormwater very well. Brand new streets retain water like crazy, while the campus has six to twelve inch gutters on the steeper roads around the hills. The stairway behind our building has been a waterfall several times. The ubiquitous blue metal construction fences are bricked in on the bottoms without regard to drainage. Even a shower creates big puddles for days.
While it’s kind of a drag, it is fascinating to see people just going about daily street life in much the same ways. Sure, there is a bit less street food, but many of the more formal stalls have umbrellas or have a bit of storefront space to vend out of. Our breakfast baozi is a good example. It occupies a twelve-ish foot wide storefront on the bottom of a three story building. Some resaurants occupy three or four times wider and extend deeper into the building, as well as up. Our baozi stand goes back perhaps twenty feet, with the front ten occcupied with production and the back living quarters (I presume–I see the couple at all hours and I’m pretty sure I’ve spied a bed and TV in the back). The interior is unimproved–basically a concrete box.
The retail end of the establishment is half under an overhang of the building, and half protected by an awning. The steamers, cash register, blender for the soy milk sit under this awning. The overhand is shared with the restaurant next door and creates sort of a common space for several businesses. After the breakfast rush the female half of the couple typically socializes with the restaurant workers doing prep work for their lunch rush. The afternoon is quiet–husband and wife seem to take turns napping. Today seemed like business as usual for them even though there was three inches of water out front.
East Lake is a good two feet higher than usual. The water is lapping at the bottom of the nearby boat dock. The storm drains on the street that runs along the shore on campus have not been keeping pace with water coming off the hillside, so the road is covered with running water in a number of places. This wasn’t too surprising to see as we bussed to the grocery store today. What was more surprising was the brand new road which recently opened. Huge puddles and a number of places where it was downright flooded. Take a look at the China Daily photos linked to above: some of those streets are ‘state of the art.’