Response in Sheung Wan to be reviewed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2008, 12:00am

The Drainage Services Department will review its Sheung Wan flood response after a record rainfall submerged many shops and enraged their owners.

It will consider sending two or three teams instead of one to clear drains when the Observatory hoists the black rainstorm warning and tides rise above 2.55 metres, and review why mobile phone warning messages did not reach some users.

But a senior engineer at the department cautioned against an inappropriate change to their response. 'This was a really big storm,' Anthony Tsang Kwok-leung said, 'but we really have to consider what the chances are of such a storm happening again.'

Last Saturday, 145.5mm of rain fell from 8am to 9am, the most in one hour since 1884.

Central and Western District Council member Kam Nai-wai yesterday listened to shop owners' complaints and demanded answers from the drainage department.

The department would consider sending an additional team to clear drains on Man Wah Lane and Morrison Street in severe black rainstorms, and another to Hiller and Wing Lok streets, said Keith Tam Kit-fan, senior engineer of the drainage projects division.

It would speak with China Mobile People's Telephone Company, the service provider for the warning system. The department sends text messages to mobile phone users who have registered with it when the Observatory hoists an amber or black rainstorm warning. A representative from People's said last night that there were no network problems.

Karen Mak Yim-ngor, a newspaper vendor who lost HK$5,000 worth of comic books in the flood, said: 'The SMS system is completely useless. The water rises too fast.'

The department relies on the Observatory, which cannot predict storms beyond an hour in advance, said Lau Wing-kam, the department's senior engineer for the district.