Water laps at the doorstep and going to work means a ride in a rowboat, but Mei Jianying laughs at the thought of moving out of a neighborhood that floods every rainy season.
"I've been here 30 years. It's a good place to live when it's not flooded," Mei said. A family of ducks paddled past her porch in the Gaogong Street district of Wuhan city in east-central China.As areas along the Yangtze, China's longest river, were warned Friday to prepare for more flooding, this neighborhood already had carried out an annual ritual by moving furniture to the roof, commuting by boat and trying to get on with daily life.
Residents have set up chairs, beds and TVs on higher floors or roofs. Families stood atop buildings cooking and playing cards, taking advantage of sunny weather after three days of torrential rain.
In the streets, children played in waist-deep water. Adults waded with small children or groceries on their shoulders. Some sat in doorways fishing.
More than 1,000 people have died in China this year in flooding caused by unusually heavy and early summer rains. The season always claims casualties but not always so many, so fast.
Gaogong Street sits on low-lying land at the junction of the rain-swollen Yangtze and Hanshui Rivers. Other parts of Wuhan have been shielded by floodwalls, but there is nothing to block rising waters from flowing into the homes of Mei and her neighbors.
When a record downpour on Tuesday overwhelmed storm drains in Wuhan and turned streets in this city of 7 million people into rivers, Gaogong Street already had been underwater for three weeks.
Most of Wuhan had drained by Friday - except for Gaogong Street. Narrow streets lined with two- and three-story houses took on an eerie resemblance to Venice, with rowboats, rubber rafts and inner tubes plying streets turned temporarily into canals.