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Field Reports
Cover Stories Series 2011> Wenchuan Quake:Three Years Later> Beijing Review Exclusive> Field Reports
UPDATED: May 11, 2011 Web Exclusive
From Rebirth to Revival
The only relocated county in quake-hit Sichuan is ready for a new start after three years of reconstruction

FAMILY TIME: Cheng Piyi (left) and wife Huang Guiqiong play with son Dorjee in their 106-square-meter new home on April 14 (SHI GANG)

"Be a good boy at the kindergarten, OK?" Huang Guiqiong told her 3-year-old son Dorjee in front of the entrance. "Having fun!"

Huang, 38, lives in Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County in southwest China's Sichuan Province. Every working day at 8:30 a.m., she sends Dorjee to Yongchang Kindergarten in the newly built town, and takes him home at 5 p.m.

The kindergarten is located just a 10-minute walk from Huang's new home. Last December, a total of 7,397 surviving families in the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan quake on May 12, 2008, including Huang's, participated in the lottery allocation for the first batch of the newly built homes.

On January 14, 2011, Huang, her husband Cheng Piyi, a Tibetan, and their son moved into an apartment in Zone A of the Erma Residential Complex.

Yesterday no more

Erma in Qiang language means "we." The residential complex has more than 6,000 apartments, which are designed for the relocation of over 12,000 quake survivors.

Huang's apartment is on the fifth floor. The 106-square-meter house has three bedrooms and two living rooms. The well-designed decor---from the doormat with "Safe Trip Wherever You Go" on it to the handmade embroideries hanging on the walls---shows the owners' appreciation of life.

"My wife made these embroideries during her spare time when we lived in the resettlement complex," Cheng, 41, proudly told Beijing Review, pointing at a 2-meter-long embroidery in the living room.

"I love the meaning of this picture--The Rising Sun," said Huang with a big smile. "I hope our life will get better and better, just like the rising sun."

Before the quake, the Chengs lived in Qushan Township of Beichuan County. When the powerful shock occurred at 2:28 p.m., the Chengs were shaken from the third floor to the second as the foundation of their building collapsed. Cheng immediately pulled his wife and son out of the apartment. They tried to find their daughter during the emergency evacuation, but her primary school had been buried when the hillside collapsed.

Although located some 140 km away from the epicenter, Beichuan County was the worst-hit area due to its geological features--it shared the same tectonic plate with the epicenter, and is surrounded by shale mountains. The whole county seat and five townships were razed. On May 25, the 13th day after the quake, the planning for relocating Beichuan County was approved by the Central Government.

After staying with relatives for three months, the Chengs and his mother-in-law moved into the Yongxing Resettlement Residential Complex in nearby Mianyang City.

"Life in the resettlement residential complex was hard," Cheng said. "We spent more than two years there. But now, we are pleased after moving in here, because I never thought of such a big house before. I'm very satisfied."

In the meantime, the panel with the National Post-Disaster Reconstruction Planning conducted on-site evaluation in more than 20 townships and 300 villages across the county from June to August. A flat plain adjacent to traffic networks was chosen as the new county seat, which was some 23 km southeast from the original one.

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