The Hong Kong government’s handling of extreme weather events has come under intense scrutiny, after super typhoons such as Saola as well as the 500-year rainstorm ravaged the city in recent months.
During his second Policy Address on Wednesday, Chief Executive John Lee vowed to step up and strengthen his administration’s response in four areas, namely early warning, emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
Lee said that the government will proceed at full speed with more than HK$8 billion in improving drainage systems, including areas where serious floods have occurred, such as Wong Tai Sin and the Eastern District of Hong Kong Island.
Though Lee insisted that his administration’s preparedness and emergency response to severe typhoons and rainstorms had “met expectations”, they fell short at notifying citizens in advance, citing “technological constraints”.
Going forward, Lee said they’ll strive for further transparency and frequency in disseminating relevant information.
While emergency dispatch and recovery efforts have become more efficient, it’s important to raise awareness and educate citizens on how to keep themselves safe, said Lee. He also identified the handling of large numbers of passengers in public transport and at the airport as another key area for improvement.
Additionally, the government intends to better incorporate the use of technology, such as big data and artificial intelligence, to improve risk assessment capabilities for weather forecasts and alerts.
The authorities will also conduct systematic investigations and studies on landslides caused by torrential rainfalls, and plan landslide mitigation measures for more hillsides, the Chief Executive added.