As we stood by the edge of the flooded streets in Guang'an's old town, a middle-aged woman suddenly rushed forward from the crowd. Clasping a bucket and a bag she dived into the filthy brown waters, flailing her arms. She was so desperate to get to her flooded home that she was trying to swim there. A couple of policemen leapt in after her and carried her back to safety. In long lines stretching back from the edge of the flood more people stood and waited. Some were carrying food to take to stranded relatives, others held brushes and brooms hoping to clean the debris from homes and shops as the water receded. Every few minutes a rescue boat appeared, cruising down what was, two days ago, a busy street. Now the water was lapping at the roof of the shops.The boats would pull in, deposit another load of people who had been picked up from their cut-off homes, and then load up with those hoping to get in to the flooded area. One woman in the queue said it was the worst flood she had ever seen. "The health clinic where I work is on the ground floor of the building. It was completely underwater. Now I am waiting to see if I can go back. "Mr Ye, whose family has a shop selling pianos and musical instruments, said they had lost almost everything.