With Super Typhoon Mangkhut expected to sweep by Hong Kong on Sunday, prompting authorities to look into emergency response measures, the safety of people and property in Tai O has come in for some extra attention.
The fishing town is receiving particular scrutiny with regard to disaster preparedness, given the substantial damage and flooding it suffered last year in the wake of Typhoon Hato.
As Mangkhut could pack wind speeds of several-dozen kilometers an hour, there are fears that Tai O could again bear the brunt as it did in 2017.
Amid such worries, locals are taking their own steps to help minimize the potential losses.
In one such initiative, some residents have organized a volunteer team to help about 300 elderly people move their home appliances to higher places, as well as secure other items in advance, to guard against potential flooding.
The precautionary moves will be undertaken on Saturday. According to the organizers, about 70 to 80 volunteers have been roped in for the effort as of late Thursday.
The Hong Kong Observatory has said it may issue the Standby Signal No. 1 as soon as Friday night.
Chan Ying-wa, senior scientific officer at the Observatory, said the weather will deteriorate significantly on Sunday.
“Despite uncertainties in the track of Mangkhut and its distance from Hong Kong, Mangkhut’s extensive circulation will pose a threat to the coast of Guangdong,” RTHK quoted Chan as saying.
At 1 pm Friday, the weather agency issued another update on the situation.
“Weather in Hong Kong will deteriorate significantly on Sunday. Winds will strengthen abruptly with frequent heavy rain and squalls. Seas will be very rough with swells. Heavy rain and storm surge may cause flooding and backflow of seawater in low-lying coastal areas,” it said in a release of special weather tips.
Leung Wing-mo, former assistant director of the Observatory and incumbent spokesman for the Hong Kong Meteorological Society, noted on Thursday that Mangkhut’s path is similar to that of Typhoon Hagupit in 2008.
The storm may not hit Hong Kong directly, but will still bring heavy rain, he suggested.
Residents of Heng Fa Chuen, a private estate in Chai Wan, are worried about a repeat of the situation last year when the estate’s underground parking was submerged in the wake of flooding caused by Typhoon Hato.
The property management company of the estate said precautions have been taken this time, including moving the existing water pump up to the ground and adding a mobile pump.
Also, a system has been installed to monitor the water level at the parking lot, it said, adding that arrangements are in place to provide real-time information, through telephone and text messages, to the car owners in the event of any flooding.
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