Little damage from Typhoon Nida due to extensive disaster mitigation work, Hong Kong’s development chief says
But he adds that city still needs to update its prevention and mitigation strategies, and improve current infrastructure
The relatively minimal damage inflicted by Typhoon Nida on Hong Kong last week was a result of years of disaster mitigation projects proving their effectiveness, according to development chief Paul Chan Mo-po.
But he stressed that the city needed to “move with the times” in the face of changing climates and further enhance its disaster prevention and mitigation work, including the improvement of existing infrastructure.
Nida hit the city with gale force winds and heavy rain last Tuesday, with the No. 8 storm warning signal – the city’s first this year – in place for 16 hours. Flooding in low-lying areas was not as severe as initially feared, but emergency crews had to deal with more than 400 reports of fallen trees.
About 300 hectares of farmland across the New Territories were affected, triggering the release of an emergency government relief fund. At least 12 people sought treatment at public hospitals’ accident and emergency departments during the typhoon, while 262 people took refuge in temporary shelters.
Chan, however, said the storm did not cause serious damage to life or property and credited measures such as the Drainage Services Department’s extensive river training works, village flood protection schemes and underground stormwater tanks in Tai Hang Tung, Sheung Wan and Happy Valley in operation, which helped to control flooding.
“These projects enhance Hong Kong’s overall flood control capacity and public safety,” said Chan, writing in his weekly blog. He also praised government engineers and geotechnical experts for their multifaceted strategy of reducing overall landslide risks to below 25 per cent of 1977 levels.
“In order to face the challenges posed by climate change, we will take reference to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment, particularly the expected rainfall and sea level rise and update Hong Kong’s infrastructure design standards as practical.”
Last month was also one of the two hottest Julys since the record began over 130 years ago, according to the Hong Kong Observatory. The mean temperature, which was 1 degree higher than normal, was the same as the previous highest record for July in 2014.
The forecaster, describing last month’s weather as “unusually hot”, said the extreme temperature was due to high air pressure and typhoons. It has warned of further extreme and inclement weather events and higher temperatures ahead.