An employee of BooksChina.com, an online bookstore, navigates through knee-deep water inside a warehouse in Zhuozhou on Thursday. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Netizens have rallied around BooksChina.com, one of the country's biggest online bookstores, which has been severely affected by heavy rain and flooding triggered by Typhoon Doksuri.
In a statement issued on its website and multiple social media platforms, including WeChat and Sina Weibo, the bookseller said its warehouse in Zhuozhou, Hebei province, suffered the "most destructive impact" of flooding since the company was founded 25 years ago.
More than 4 million books, which accounted for roughly 80 percent of its inventory, have been damaged by floodwaters, the statement said.
On Tuesday night, after the company sent out messages on social media saying that some of its employees were trapped on the fourth floor of the warehouse, netizens helped direct emergency responders to the location.
Some social media users offered to buy damaged books, while others said they were willing to make donations to help BooksChina.com survive the ordeal.
Hebei was battered by heavy rainfall for about 144 hours since July 27, when Typhoon Doksuri plowed into East China's Fujian province.
Zhuozhou received 355 millimeters of rainfall between 8 am on Saturday and 11 am on Tuesday, and over 130,000 people were affected, according to local authorities.
Hebei serves as a logistics hub for many companies in Beijing, and nearly 100 publishing houses keep their books stocked in Zhuozhou.
At around 1:30 pm on Tuesday, employees working at the Books-China.com warehouse shifted some books from the first floor to higher floors, and stacked up sandbags at the entrance, according to Paper.cn.
However, floodwaters inundated the first floor within an hour, and employees rushed to take shelter on the fourth floor. It all happened too quickly and they didn't have enough resources to relocate all the books, the employees said.
At around 9 pm on Tuesday, the company sent out messages seeking help. By 9 am on Wednesday, rescuers found all employees who were trapped in the warehouse and evacuated them to safety.
Netizens, who helped organize the rescue, sent words of encouragement to the company. Many ordered more books, gift cards and other items to extend their support.
"I have bought many books on your website, some of which saved me. ... It is time for me to rescue you," said one Weibo user.
Another user wrote, "Those who survive big disasters are blessed with good fortune afterward."
The company, which mentioned in a statement that the books at its Zhuo-zhou warehouse were almost its "entire stock", said it will not sell the damaged and contaminated books as it valued its readers' safety more.
"We have lost many out-of-print books," the company said in another post. "Many of our previous online orders cannot be delivered. After the flood recedes, we will check how many books can still be sold."
Deeply moved by the kind gestures of social media users, the company said, "Your support gives us the confidence to overcome this difficult period."
BooksChina.com needs three to four weeks to go over pending online orders, and will call or send text messages to clients whose orders cannot be delivered, the company said, adding that they will be refunded.