Eleven inches of rain chucked down on Beijing on July 21, 2012, flooding roads and filling underpasses. Landscape architect Yu Kongjian barely made it home from work. “I was lucky,” he says. “I saw many people abandon their cars.” As the deluge continued, the city descended into chaos. Beijing’s largest storm in more than 60 years killed 79 people; most of them drowned in their vehicles or were sucked into underground drains. Damages reached nearly $2 billion.