Classes for the new school year began on Monday after being delayed last week by Super Typhoon Saola, as Hong Kong assessed the damage inflicted by the storm that battered the city last Friday and Saturday.

At least 86 people were injured, and more than 1,500 trees succumbed to strong winds, with government employees enlisted to help with the citywide clear up on Sunday.

Typhoon Saola Big Wave Bay,
Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong Island, in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Saola on Saturday, September 2, 2023. Photo: Mercedes Hutton/HKFP.

A little over 24 hours after the Hong Kong Observatory cancelled all storm warnings last Saturday night as Saola departed, the Observatory raised the Standby Signal No.1 at 4.40 am on Monday as another tropical cyclone, Haikui, entered within 800 kilometres of Hong Kong.

The warning would remain in place for most of the day, according to Choy Chun-Wing, the Observatory’s acting senior scientific officer, said on an RTHK programme on Monday.

Eighty-six people sought medical treatment at public hospitals for injuries received during Saola, which warranted the city’s highest storm warning Hurricane Signal No. 10, according to a government press release on Saturday. Additionally, 520 people took refuge at 40 temporary shelters across the city opened by the Home Affairs Department.

Government departments received 1,545 reports of fallen trees, while the Drainage Services Department confirmed 21 cases of flooding and two reports of landslide were received.

Typhoon Saola Sha Tin
Shing Mun River in Sha Tin on Saturday, September 2, 2023 after it flooded in the wake of Super Typhoon Saola. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Saola also postponed the start of the new school year from last Friday to Monday. The Education Bureau announced a day before Saola’s arrival that all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools would suspend class last Friday.

Speaking at a secondary school on Monday, the education secretary Christine Choi said in Cantonese that some schools had experienced flooding and damage to their windows as a result of Saola.

Government-wide mobilisation

Civil servants from several departments joined clean-up operations on Sunday as part of the “government-wide mobilisation” mechanism, the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau said in a press release on Sunday. Chief Executive John Lee approved the deployment of about a hundred staff from the Legal Aid Department, the Rating and Valuation Department and the Trade and Industry Department to provide assistance across the city.

Around 100 civil servants were mobilised to provide assistance in the districts after the typhoon left on September 2, 2023.
Around 100 civil servants were mobilised to provide assistance in the districts after the typhoon left on September 2, 2023. Photo: Facebook of Secretary for Home Affairs of Hong Kong, Alice Mak

They assisted in returning elderly residents from the temporary shelters to care homes, removing sandbags and clearing roads.

The Development Bureau and the departments under its purview, including tree management departments and the Buildings Department helped removing signboards with obvious dangers and handling roadside trees at risk, according to the bureau’s Facebook post on Sunday.

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Mandy Cheng is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. Previously, she worked at Ming Pao, focusing on investigative and feature reporting. She also contributed to Cable TV and others.