Dam the Yangtze!

In April 2006 I captured these images along the Yangtze River:
In the image above, signs mark where the water levels are expected to reach. No signs of warning for the images below.

Only six months later, these quaint villages and serene settings are gone. Under water. Drowned in the rising waters of the Yangtze.

Higher up on the banks, newly built cities appear – stark, devoid of charm and character, and crammed full of high-rise apartments with no elevators. The relocation barracks. I hear tales of a 90-year-old woman, whose family lived and fished for generations in a simple clay home along the banks of the Yangtze, now forced to live 10 stories above the ground in her new high-rise apartment. She hasn’t stepped outside since the day she moved in.

Startling images of the same bridge in April then 6 months later in October:

No words can describe the feeling of floating over entire cities, towns, villages, and ancient monuments toward a massive man-made hydroelectric dam project. It’s eerie.

The local guides tell us the dam was built to prevent flooding downstream. Meanwhile upstream, whole cities and villages are not just flooded, but drowned. There’s a lot more behind that dam than water.

Throughout the entire downstream cruise from Chongqing to Yichang, the current flowed against us. Imagine, a man-made structure so powerful that it reverses the course of nature. And, despite victorious claims from the engineers, the dam is still years away from completion.

Dam the Yangtze. I am in awe of what I see, but can’t help wondering what I don’t see.


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