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Survey reveals typhoons devastate Hong Kong’s urban poor

Publish Date: 11-Jun-2020

Typhoon Hato and Manghut caused massive damages in Hong Kong in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Many living in substandard housing units, such as subdivided flats and rooftop huts, suffered from floods, power failure, damaged furniture, and some even had their roofs blown off by the strong winds, according to the findings of a survey conducted by Lady MacLehose Centre and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Disaster Preparedness and Response Institute. The survey was conducted between May and July in 2019 on the impacts of typhoons on people living in inadequate housing. A total of 104 residents living in subdivided flats, cubicle apartments and rooftop huts took part. The two organizations held a press conference on 24 May to release the results of the survey. It was also attended by two respondents of the survey, who shared their experiences of living through the typhoons.

The survey revealed that people living in substandard housing units generally underestimated the impacts of the two typhoons and did not take adequate precautionary measures. Although 76.7% of the people surveyed thought they were well aware of the possible impacts of the typhoons on their homes, 64.4% of the respondents reported some damages caused by the typhoons including blocked drains, electricity cuts, and fires caused by electricity supply to short-circuit. Among the people surveyed, only 19.2% stocked up drinking water and electric torches beforehand.

76% of the surveyed reported that their homes were damaged by the typhoons in various degrees ranging from water seepage, flooding, water damages to furniture, and broken windows. About 10% of the surveyed and their families suffered from some kinds of injuries during the typhoons or fell ill because their living quarters were damaged.

Despite the fact that maintenance should be the landlord’s responsibility and that any disputes on maintenance should be settled according to the agreement between landlords and tenants, only 20% of the surveyed said that the landlords maintained their properties; 60% said that their tenant agreements did not mention who should shoulder the responsibilities of the maintenance. Furthermore, 13.6% of the people surveyed did not even sign an agreement with the landlord. Some 55% of the people surveyed said simple maintenances were done by themselves without any assistance after the typhoons.

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