Text by Liu Haile Photographs by Tang Tao
Three years ago, Yingxiu, a formerly nondescript town hidden deep in Sichuan Province, attracted a not-so-desirable spotlight as one of the most badly damaged areas of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. However, it has since been reborn from ashes, and its residents have recovered from the tremendous sorrow that came with losing their families in the disaster. Their homes were rebuilt with support from Dongguan City of southeastern China’s Guangdong Province.
Strolling through the reconstructed town, visitors may feel stunned by sparkling new residences combining Qiang and Tibetan architectural styles. On sunny days, passersby see old people napping on roadside bamboo chairs, children chasing each other down narrow lanes, and young adults busy decorating their new houses. All of these factors combine to create a warm atmosphere that showcases renewed hope.
If not for the remaining ruins from the quake, today it might be hard to imagine that the town suffered such devastation. Previously, it was home to more than 10,000 residents, but only 2,300 survived. Nearly every single structure was leveled, and its infrastructure (including water, electricity, transportation, and communication) was destroyed. It seems a miracle that the town was resurrected in only three years.
The day before 2011 Spring Festival kicked off, Yang Hejun and his family moved back to their home in the town’s Zhongtanbao Village. He rushed to the rebuilt home and threw open its gate. Watching movers place new furniture and electric appliances in the house, a broad smile stretched across his face. His daughter, Yang Xue, got busy hanging lanterns on the house to decorate for the coming festival. The family hadn’t spent the festival in their hometown with relatives for two years. “Finally, we’re home,” the girl smiled. According to Sun Xiaofei, deputy secretary of the Party committee of Yingxiu Town, after the earthquake, many local families were temporarily relocated to rented dwellings in nearby Dujiangyan City, and 80 percent moved back home before the 2011 Spring Festival.