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As a subtropical urbanized city in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong is prone to frequent typhoons. With an increasing number of severe typhoons, usual preparedness measures should be explored to assess their adequacy to safeguard health and wellbeing. Typhoon Mangkhut (2018) serves as an example of the successes and limitations of community preparedness for a severe typhoon.
To explore how Hong Kong residents prepared for Typhoon Mangkhut and whether their usual preparedness measures provided enough protection.
A population-based randomized telephone survey of Hong Kong residents (n=521) was conducted soon after Typhoon Mangkhut’s landing. Only residents aged 18 or above and understood Cantonese were included. Socio-demographic factors, types of typhoon and general preparedness, risk perception, and impacts from the typhoon were asked. Descriptive characteristics and univariate analysis were used to describe the patterns and associations.
8.6% of respondents felt their home was at high risk of danger during typhoons although 33.4% reported some form of impact from Mangkhut. Over 70% reported doing at least one typhoon specific preparedness measure. Among those who practiced at least one typhoon specific preparedness measure, 37.2% (p=0.002) were affected by the typhoon.
Despite the high adaptation of preparedness measures, warranted by the frequent typhoons, Hong Kong residents were not adequately prepared for a severe typhoon. While the early warning system and evacuation of flood-prone areas mitigated some of the impact, unexpected effects such as flying air conditioners, roadblocks affecting employment, swaying buildings, and loss of power supply were not accounted for. Future preparedness for natural disasters which will become more extreme due to climate change and needs to account for unforeseen risks.