As the rains fell, videos of unimaginable devastation and heroic rescue efforts poured on to social media. In one video, a person sprinted through waist-deep water to save a child rapidly floating downstream. In another video, a group of people formed a human chain to cross the street despite fast-flowing currents, saving elderly people who might have died had they been alone.
Western journalists reported on these heroic efforts to save lives and shared the videos on Twitter. With similar intense floods occurring in Germany and Belgium, much of the foreign coverage of the Henan floods noted that they were a part of a worldwide pattern of intense and extreme flooding, most likely exacerbated by climate change. But curiously, Western reporters on the ground in Henan experienced hostility, even as the Western media largely framed the floods within the context of factual descriptions of damage and climate change. One reporter for Deutsche Welle, Mathias Boelinger, was encircled by a crowd as he reported from one of the worst hit parts of Zhengzhou. People in the crowd angrily told him to get out of China and accused him of spreading rumours.