Disaster mitigation system to include dyke to hold back sea and two evacuation shelters The government plans to set up a flood-warning system, open two shelters and build a dyke to protect Tai O after the Lantau fishing village was swamped by a storm surge last year. The Home Affairs Department is working with the Hong Kong Observatory, police, Fire Services Department and Drainage Services Department on an early-warning system to go into use in the first quarter of this year. The system will send out warning signals to government departments when a flood exceeds a designated danger line. Coastal residents in the village will be told to evacuate to two temporary shelters - one in the Tai O Rural Committee's office and the other in an abandoned school to be transformed into a shelter later this year. In addition, a dyke is to be built along the seashore next to Wing On Street to keep out water. Residents of Tai O suffered significant damage to their homes and businesses when the village was hit by a storm surge generated by Typhoon Hagupit in September. Hundreds of people in Tai O and other Lantau villages were forced to flee their homes when they were swamped by waist-deep water. Islands district officer Byron Lam Saint-kit said yesterday the government's contingency mechanism should be in place before this year's flood season. 'The real-time ultrasound monitor will send flood-warning messages automatically to the Observatory and Drainage Services Department when it detects unusually high water levels,' he said. 'The authorities will then pass the message to village officials and representatives by SMS, calling on them to evacuate villagers to the two shelters.' The warning system and the renovation work at the former school will cost HK$300,000 and HK$1 million respectively. Mr Lam said the dyke beside Wing On Street was being designed now, with work expected to begin next year for completion in 2011. Tai O Rural Committee chairman Lee Chi-fung said the measures had been proposed by committee members and he was happy to see them all accepted by the government. 'The flood last September might take place only once in a century. Yet these measures will reassure the people living here about their safety.' Concern Group for Tai O Culture and Relics spokeswoman Wong Wai-king expressed doubt about the usefulness of the dyke. 'Actually, the floodwater can sweep in from many places around Tai O. To build a dyke at the side of Wing On Street will be no use to prevent flooding,' she said. Also yesterday, more than 60 volunteers from the village and other groups helped clean the stilt house area of Tai O. Mr Lam said hygiene conditions had deteriorated in the area because of last year's floods.