I was in Macau when Typhoon Hato struck on the 23rd of August 2017. I had just arrived in Macau a few days earlier from Singapore and I am so glad that I came back in time as my wife and my dog were both in Macau and I could be around to look after them during the Typhoon.
Every year during the summer months, Typhoons are quite common and they usually come and go. When Typhoon Hato was on the way, even though the Hong Kong Observatory was warning of a very close Typhoon which could cause substantial damage, most of us in Macau thought it would be just another Typhoon which would come and go. The Macau Observatory did not warn of any impending danger and didn’t offer any advisories to the public with regards to the approaching Typhoon.
On the Morning of 23rd of August 2017, my wife and myself woke up earlier than usual to see if she needed to go to work (Everyone gets off from work when there is a Typhoon warning signal of no 8 and above). Hong Kong had already raised the Number 8 warning and Macau was still in the number 3, that confused us as the typhoon was closer to us than to Hong Kong.
Macau finally raised the number 8 warning at 9am but by that time, all hell had broken loose. the winds were howling outside our window and it was pouring rain, our windows were closed but we could look outside and we saw all sort of debris flying all over the place. Many things that I did not know could move was either shaking or flying in the wind. The rain and winds continued to get stronger and if I remember correctly , the winds and rain were strongest between 11am and 2pm.
1pm – I can’t remember the exact time we lost power but I think it was in the afternoon around 1 to 2pm. This was the moment in my life that I realized how important electricity is to all of us. I realized that everything we used required electricity and everything had stopped working! The whole of Macau had lost power because the power stations were flooded. Everything shut down and a notice was put out that due to the power failure, we would eventually lose water as well because the pumps that pump water to homes and buildings had stopped working due to the power failure.
We started to store as much water as we could with all the empty bottles we could find. We eventually lost water supply at around 6pm and our water supply was not restored till around 5am the next day. We were the really lucky ones as most of Macau still did not have water. Many parts of Macau only received water three days later on the 26th of August.
The rains and winds eventually started to ease and around 5pm, I could see people walking on the streets below. I went downstairs to have a look and it was like a war zone, there was rubbish and broken glass and tree branches all over the place. This though would be mild as I was to find out the next day.
We did not have power till around 7.30pm and I think we were extremely lucky as well because many parts of macau did not have power till two days later.
The next day, my wife and I went to check on our car and we decided to drive out to see what the typhoon had done to Macau. The damage that we saw was unimaginable, I never ever thought I would see Macau in this state and I have to admit that it was indeed heartbreaking. We took some photos from our moving car and below are some of the images.
There was a lot more damage that I didn’t get to see and by the following day, full cleanup efforts were under way. The damage was so extensive that the Chinese army sent in the troops to aid in the cleanup and that was a huge help.
I know Macau will recover from this but there certainly are lessons that residents and the government can learn from this disaster.
On My part, I will now stock up on daily necessities (like water and food) in case of times like this, I know that if this event had persisted for more than one day, we would have been in trouble as we didn’t have enough food and water for more than a day.
I will also appreciate the simple things that we have everyday (Electricity and water) and not waste them.