There's water water everywhere

Lin Yu could well be asking himself the same question as the holder of an master's in engineering can frequently be seen standing in the rain, pumping water.

The 30-year-old leads a team that pumps flood water in Guangzhou, in the southern province of Guangdong.

"The drainage in the old downtown is not capable of handling downpours," Lin said. "And it is hard to upgrade it as the pipes have become too complicated after numerous changes over the past decades. Sometimes, pumping is the only solution to prevent floods."

But before he was able to head the team, he spent two years becoming familiar with the complicated underground network of pipes, which he said helped give him an idea of where to put a pump.

It's like taking the pulse of the drainage system, like a doctor does to a patient, Lin explained.

But in reality, he added, it feels more like fighting a sudden attack.

"In the rainy season, like now, the summer, we are usually on call 24 hours a day," Lin said. "A flood can come at any time and we have to rush there."

Recently, he and his fellow team members spent more than 20 hours at the entrance of the South China Normal University, pumping water that stands as high as 30 centimeters.

He mobilized his team and vehicles with a global positioning system and headed to the area soon after Lin spotted the heavy-rain warning.

When they got stuck in traffic because two lanes were flooded, they had to jump out and carry smaller pumps at least 50 m to the site.

"I was nervous. I felt like we were to blame for the traffic jam," recalled Lin.

With some team members directing traffic with the police, Lin oversaw the operation, which included connecting the pumps to pipes more than 200 meters long.

"Wetness and hunger are the major challenges. The sky determines when we can take a break and eat. Raincoats and boots can hardly shield us from the water. We need to remain at the site until the rain warning is withdrawn," Lin said.

Last year, Lin led more than 180 operations during the flood season that spanned from the end of March to late October.

"The work is not easy, but sometimes I feel like a savior to the helpless people when we arrive at a flooded site," he said.

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