Typhoons in Hong Kong - reply

Hi Mr B (or was it Mr T?),

You raise some interesting points.

1) Who in HK is responsible for disaster preparation and management?

I remember back in the early 1990s there was some discussion about evacuation plans in the event of an accident at Daya Bay [pause, google, ah, here it is]

Searching around some more, here's the government's 64 page plan for Natural Disaster
<http://www.sb.gov.hk/eng/emergency/ndisaster/ndisaster.pdf>, entitled "Hong Kong Contingency Plan for Natural Disasters".

It's kind of scary in light of recent events to read things like The Food and Envionemental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will be respsonsible (under the direction of the police) for the removal of dead bodies and to assist the Director of Health for setting up temporary mortuary facilities as required...

There's also the Emergency Response System

Oh, and here it all is gathered in a convenient place by the Security Bureau.

You mentioned flooding....

Yes, on the 46th floor, you are probably safe from storm surge - but what if the electricity goes out for days? Getting out and about would be very hard; and in the summer, without electricity, many flats in HK could become real hot boxes. Plus, water problems...

I remember a few years ago there was a power outage in a housing estate in Tsuen Wan for over a day, and many people who lived above the 10th floor had a very hard time just getting to their homes. When I was 7 months pregnant w/ my first child, the lift in my building was broken one night and it was *quite* a haul to get myself to my flat on the 8th floor. That's one of the reasons I vowed I would never live above the 7th floor for the rest of my life (and I hope to keep it).

My DH was a young boy during the water shortages of 1963 & 1967. As the eldest child, he had to help queue for water & also when they did get a flat w/ running water (I guess by '67) they had the 4 hours of water every 4 days thing I think about that a lot. Does the HK Government still have water tanks ready to deliver water in the event of massive water disruption? I hope so.

It's our habit when there's a signal 8 hoisted to fill the bathtub and out buckets w/ water.

In one way, I guess it is lucky that HK still has recent memories of dealing w/ refugees, and we read news reports about millions of people passing through the borders over a holiday weekend, which makes me think that Hong Kong could cope w/ massive amounts of people needing to leave here, more so than in most of the US Gulf Coast, which lacks major passenger rail systems.

Re:Typhoons in Hong Kong - reply

The typhoon article was definitely a Mr Tall production -- Mr B is not a weather geek like me!

Anyway, great comments, skmama -- and thanks for doing the research I'm obviously far too lazy to get done! I'll check out those links soon.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the HK Weather Underground crowd have been busy debating this very same topic, i.e. is HK ready for 'The Big One'. You can find their discussion here:


A couple of other things: skmama is admirable for taking much more seriously the real implications of a big typhoon hit on Hong Kong. I was actually being flip and irresponsible with my 46th-floor comments. When it comes down to it, I agree things could get pretty bad here if power and water were out for any length of time. We'd have similar problems with dealing with heat, hygience, and daily necessities, and then add to that the problem of getting people (and daily necessities!) up and down all of those high-rises, and we're looking at a pretty big mess.

On the plus side, the problems with long-term massive flooding wouldn't be there. Hong Kong really is too hilly and well-drained for this to happen. Also, we have the huge advantage of almost all electrical cabling being dug in underground, and hence being unaffected by winds. Certainly there would be power outages, but the total disruption of power for long periods hopefully isn't a real concern. Water, I don't know -- that could be a lot worse, although again I don't think HK's water supply would be as vulnerable as NO's obviously was. I do think filling the bathtubs is a very fine idea!

As one of the posters on that HK Weather Underground discussion I linked above mentioned, one of the biggest problems, especially in downtown areas, would be broken glass. A category 4 or 5 typhoon in HK would break so much glass out of our skyscrapers we'd be cleaning it up for weeks, and likely replacing it for months.

Anyway, I'll have a look at those planning documents, and check back in later on this one.

Mr T

Re:Typhoons in Hong Kong - reply

i remember those days of 4 hours of water every 4 days!!!!

i also remember some full-fledged hurricanes hitting us over the years, with signal 10 hoisted for ...the ones i can recall are Wanda in 62, Ruby in 64, Rose in 71, Hope in 79, Ellen in 83 and York in 99, but i know there were others.....

somehow York didn't feel as bad as some of the earlier storms, nor did it leave such a trail of destruction as, say, Rose...perhaps we're better prepared, perhaps we were lucky....i know that for a lot of people here, the real biggies aren't within their living memory

flooding i can see not being a problem but on the other hand, remember the tragic Kotewall/Po Shan Road and the Sau Mau Ping landslips of 1972!!! thankfully the work done since then under the government's slope stabilisation policy seems to be holding coz we have had some pretty powerful rains this year

good lord i live on the 35th floor ....now you've got me thinking!!!! and as for hotboxes....i got home yesterday and my apartment was 32C inside....this is mighty hot weather for late september

interesting stuff all round :!:


York was a bit scary. I remember that my husband insisted that we keep the curtains closed and try to stay far from them, in case they shattered (I guess he figured the curtains might help contain shards of glass a little...). The windows did ...buckle a bit in some of the high gusts. So far that has been the worst I've experienced here in HK.

Re:Typhoons in Hong Kong - reply

Well, since we've just come off a weekend made hot and hideous by yet another typhoon that hit Taiwan, I thought I'd follow up with this thread.

Fiona, interesting you mentioned the Sau Mau Ping landslip -- I used to live right on that hillside. There's a temple now down at the bottom of the fateful slope, which of course looks just like any other slope here now that it's been shaped up.

I've only been here long enough to experience York amongst all those really strong storms, and I also found it bad enough. We had a large dog at that time, and I remember we ventured out in the early afternoon on the day York hit HK. (This dog was such a good boy he just couldn't bring himself to do his business indoors, and by afternoon that day we were really getting worried about the poor thing's bladder!)

When we got outside, there was the classic stuff flying around in the wind, and of course the horizontal rain. We made it into an area that was sheltered a bit by a building, and I implored my dog to Get It Done NOW. Well, unfortunately, he was even more spooked by the howling wind and airborn missiles than I was, and he couldn't produce a drop. We eventually gave up, and he finally 'gave it up' in the bathroom later on.

Anyway, enough rambling anecdotes. I also did have a look at that government natural disaster plan SKMama pointed out. Let's just say it's long on promoting harmonious interdepartmental communications protocols amongst government agencies, and a bit short on practicalities. Among the few concrete plans it sets out is a scheme for setting up a