BACKGROUND: The process of human response to natural disasters and its mechanisms as revealed by historical events still has a broad significance for modern society. This study analyzed the disaster relief process and the social response for two floods in China: the Yongding River flood in 1801 and the Yellow River flood in 1841. These two floods reflect the different response processes between the national and provincial capitals during a stage of climate cooling and social transition in the Qing dynasty. RESULTS: Applying methods of historical documents analysis and qualitatively comparative analysis to the materials such as Relief Chronicles Authorized by the Emperor in XinYou and Flood Description in Bian Liang, it shows that: (1) In 1801, the central government took on a lead position, from flood surveying to relief processes. However, local government and gentries played an important role in 1841. (2) In 1801, the government successfully undertook a series of relief measures addressing production, housing, food prices, taxes, and water conservancy and administration. In 1841, the response measures were relatively simple, focusing mainly on providing shelter and food for victims. (3) The government carried out long-term disaster prevention measures such as dredging channels after the flood in 1801. In 1841, however, the efforts were focused mainly on emergency rescue. (4) Refugees in the 1801 flood were effectively managed by a centralized authority. In 1841, regulation of the flooding was delayed by corruption and conflicts between officers, leading to an expansion of the disaster's impact. CONCLUSIONS: Above results have led to the conclusion that disaster relief systems and response measures had a significant effect on the consequences of those floods. Various flood relief measures and natural disasters management regimes have implications for contemporary flood hazard mitigation.
Ye, Y., Fang, X., & Li, F. (2016). Response and recovery measures for two floods in north China during the nineteenth century: a comparative study. SpringerPlus, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-3642-y