While Guangzhou travelers experienced a sliver of hope as trains are up and running after China's worst snowstorm in 50 years, the costs of the devastation are piling up.
The death toll has now hit 60, and 1.76 million have had to relocate. According to Zou Ming, Director of Department of Disaster Relief at Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, "direct economic loss from the disaster is nearly $8 billion USD."
Some officials remain optimistic that China will soon recover from the disaster, and Zhu Hongren, Deputy Director of Department of Economy Operation at China's National Development and Reform Commission says, "the economic fundamentals of the Chinese economy are still sound and I believe the momentum of fairly rapid and steady growth of the Chinese economy will continue."
It's doubtful that one storm would really put a dent in China's overall economy, which has experienced a double-digit GDP growth rate over the past several years, but the storms have definitely revealed vulnerabilities within China's infrastructure. Investors are also less than confident in China's current stock market, which has taken a beating since the storm.
While the government is working to stimulate growth, including a nearly $700 million package to help farmers whose crops have been destroyed, it still can't fully recoup the full extent of damages.
Millions of migrant workers who are only able to see family members once a year will have to wait another 365 days before going home. Despite all of the government promises, there's not really any monetary way to replace those moments with loved ones.
But despite the devastation, the storms are over, and in just 6 days, the New Year will begin. I have no doubt that many of China's leaders are eager to put the past behind them, and look towards a fresh start for the Year of the Rat.