FROZEN IN TIME: The photo shows a Wenchuan County memorial park, where the centerpiece is a clock tower that stopped at the moment of the 2008 earthquake (ZHAO XI)
Just in time for February 14's Spring Festival this year, 1,655 farming families who lost their homes during the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province will be moving into new permanent abodes and ending one major portion of the pain wrought by the disaster. Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Sichuan Province in May 2008, is coming back to life at a speed few had expected thanks to the counterpart assistance being administered by south China's Guangdong Province.
The Wenchuan earthquake was China's worst natural disaster in decades. It killed nearly 70,000 people, destroyed millions of homes and caused losses of 845.1 billion yuan ($124.3 billion). To accelerate reconstruction in ravaged areas, the Chinese Government issued a policy of pairing the worst-hit counties during the earthquake with partner provinces and municipalities that are in charge of aiding rebuilding programs.
Wenchuan was paired with Guangdong Province, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in China. The plan drawn up by Guangdong states that it will spend 8.2 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) on reconstruction, mainly in building rural and urban housing, disaster shelters, roads and medical, urban water supply, social welfare, leisure and sports and agricultural facilities. Work crews completed all projects on December 3, 2009, and a majority of the Wenchuan population that was affected by the disaster moved into permanent housing.
As of early this year, 99 percent of the projects in Wenchuan that were to be aided by Guangdong had been started and 58 percent had been completed. Government office buildings, retail real estate projects, factories and traffic hubs have not yet been completed. According to Guangdong's provincial development and reform commission, construction crews will finish all projects by the end of 2010.
One month after the earthquake, Guangdong Province sent a team consisting of more than 200 engineers and technicians to Wenchuan. They conducted preliminary field research to draft a comprehensive reconstruction plan. During their field trips, the experts had to contend with aftershocks, landslides and mudslides.
Guangdong instructed the provincial treasury and those of cities that were also providing aid to donate at least 1 percent of total revenue to a reconstruction fund for three years in a row to guarantee the availability of financial resources.