HAIKOU - After nine days of heavy downpours on the island province of Hainan, signs of a respite appeared on Sunday as the rain began to ease and the floodwater started to recede in some of the areas that were severely hit in the storms.
The record rainfall, the worst in nearly half a century, affected 2.5 million people in 16 counties and cities across the province and forced 336,000 residents to be evacuated from their homes as of Saturday afternoon, the local flood control authority said.
China News Service quoted Zeng Weilu, deputy director of the education department in Hainan province, as having said that 1,187 schools had been damaged by the rain, which destroyed 92 classrooms and dormitory rooms, leaving 2,267 others unsafe.
Zeng said the direct economic loss to the local education department stood at 99.91 million yuan ($14.69 million).
Since the rain began to ease on Saturday and is forecast to continue to diminish over the next two days, most schools on the island are due to resume classes on Monday.
However, Wenchang, one of the worst hit areas, remained under threat, as low-lying residential areas continued to be submerged by the floodwater, cutting off traffic in urban districts.
Two main arteries connecting the flooded city to the outside world returned to service on Saturday afternoon, alleviating food shortages and rising vegetables prices.
After local crops were destroyed in the floods, cities like the provincial capital Haikou had to rely on having vegetables shipped in from outside.
Vegetable prices in Hainan have jumped 30 percent since the flooding began, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Rescue workers have been bringing in bottled water, instant noodles and rice for the last five days, according to a representative of the municipal civil affairs bureau.
Many residents in Wanning city on Saturday had their first meal with vegetables since the flooding began.
"I haven't eaten any vegetables for a week," said Ye Yashan, a resident in Yandun village of Wanning, as he held some Chinese cabbage in his hands.
There is also a drug shortage in the city.
Doctors from Wenchang People's Hospital told China Daily that cases of conjunctivitis have leapt, because flooding forces people to gather in mass.
Medicine for the viral eye infection is in short supply as a result of the flooding, along with remedies for cold, flu, hypertension, diarrhea and skin conditions, doctors said.
Since Oct 5, the provincial health department earmarked 40 tons of drugs for the affected regions.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Friday jointly allocated 50 million yuan in aid for Hainan.
The funds will predominantly be used to provide daily necessities for affected residents, their resettlement, the repair of damaged homes and condolence money for families of flood victims.
The meteorological bureau of Hainan downgraded the emergency response level on Sunday morning for all 18 cities and counties in the province from level 1, where it had been since Oct 8, to level 4.
While the rain is forecast to decrease across the province, local authorities were advised to remain vigilant and to continue to monitor the situation.