Zhengzhou City, the provincial seat of Henan in central China, has finally embraced a sunny day after several consecutive days of rain. On July 23, Chen Bo, the director of the political work department of an air force station assigned to the PLA Air Force stationed in Henan, got up early at 4 a.m. He received an order to carry out road dredging operations on five main roads in the urban area of Zhengzhou City with his 148 comrades.
"Affected by this torrential rain, all the roads in Zhengzhou were cut off," said Shen Hongya, a director of Zhengzhou’s city administration bureau. Road traffic is directly related to the city's progress in restoring the order of production and life, Shen Hongya stated.
At the scene of the operation, an old lady surnamed Li who lives on Weilai Road brought two big pockets of steamed buns and eggs, and thrust the foods into soldiers’ hands.
"My grandson is also a soldier in the military. I talked to him on the phone last night. He said he was strengthening dams in Xinxiang City of Henan Province, and told me not to worry and take care of myself," Li raised her hand and wiped the dirt on the face of the young soldier beside her. Before she said a few words, her tears fell.
Soldier Qin Yongai, a member in the dredging team, always let someone else take more rest when taking breaks in batches. He said, "Everyone is trying his best. I always feel that I should do more !"
When they completed one-third of the workload, Fang Shun and a dozen soldiers voluntarily asked for additional tasks. "We can still move things, transport supplies, and clear garbage during the rotation intervals," they said.
Anybody from nearby hospitals, hotels and supermarkets would greet the PLA soldiers as long as he or she saw them. Although the troops had sufficient supplies, people still rushed to give them water or anti-heat articles, and offered room for the soldiers to take a break.
Soldier Qin Yongai, who had been working for the whole morning, was about to go to the bathroom, but he stopped at the door of the hotel as he saw in the glass that his shoes and trousers were all covered with mud. He was a little embarrassed and afraid of getting the hotel dirty.
The reception staff at the hotel saw the soldier and immediately got out to invite him in. "You are covered in mud for our sake, and we cannot thank you more," they said.
The silt cleaning work went on in the afternoon with more and more citizens coming to express their gratitude. Some cheered for the troops, some asked them to take a rest, and some wanted to join hands with them.
"Mom, who are they?" a little boy passing by asked.
"They are the PLA soldiers who protect us," the mother answered.
The shy little boy standing behind his mother looked at the PLA soldiers and officers for a long time. He plucked up the courage and lifted his folded paper airplane, ran towards the soldiers, and put the paper airplane on the front hood of the jeep.
Until the 10 p.m., all the scheduled tasks of this brigade had been completed. The soldiers rode through the underground tunnel of Weilai Road that was just cleared and opened. They had been the first batch of vehicles to pass through this tunnel since Zhengzhou City suffered continuous heavy rainfall.
"The soldiers decided to sing the military song when they passed by, taking it as their special opening ceremony of the tunnel," said Fan Jianqiong, instructor of the brigade’s maintenance contingent. Fan got very excited thinking that there would be a lot of traffic again tomorrow.
Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Li Xuan of the PLA Central Theater Command introduced that the Central Theater Command has dispatched more than 8,000 people to the water removal, road dredging, emergency repairs, pandemic prevention and sanitizing, and medical rescue work in Zhengzhou City as of 6 a.m. of July 24.