Hong Kong’s leader has vowed to enhance rainstorm alerts by giving residents more details so that they can be better prepared ahead of extreme weather events, adding authorities will also prioritise improving drainage systems in flood-affected areas following a record-breaking downpour last week.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Tuesday said even though rainstorms were “very unpredictable”, the city’s alerts could include more information on risk factors and additional details to help people prepare better.

“When we give out information, can we increase the content … such as not just sharing the level of rainfall, but maybe also providing a stronger indication of the direction of the rainstorm?” he told reporters ahead of a weekly meeting of the Executive Council, the city’s key decision-making body.

Chief Executive John Lee says even though rainstorms are “very unpredictable”, alerts could be more comprehensive. Photo: Jelly Tse

Hong Kong issued the black rainstorm warning, its highest-level alert, on Thursday evening with little forewarning. The record-breaking downpour caused widespread flash floods, turning roads into rivers and inundating the Wong Tai Sin MTR station.

Parts of the city in Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O were flooded again during heavy rain on Monday morning.

Lee defended the city’s preparedness for extreme weather events, stressing that the government had over the years eliminated dozens of flooding black spots through flood management projects.


The city leader said authorities had made an all-out effort in the aftermath of the rainstorm to ensure recovery, adding the city had mostly returned to normality over the weekend.

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But he said the extreme weather event had prompted the Drainage Services Department to rethink its priorities in flood management.

“The government has lined up some drainage expansion and maintenance works and new projects at different locations. Of course if we see higher risks in some areas where flooding has already occurred, we will prioritise work [in these places] and do them first,” Lee said.

Rainwater gushes into Wong Tai Sin Shopping Centre during the black rainstorm alert. Photo: Edmond So

He pledged that authorities would continue to clear drain blockages across the city to prevent further flooding and urged residents to stay away from slopes and trees as the ground had become saturated with rainwater.

The city leader also said a citywide warning was not issued on Monday morning because the rain fell in a small area over a short period of time.


Speaking on a radio show on Tuesday, vice-chairman of the Sai Kung District Committee Yau Ho-lun said 40 households in Ma Yau Tong village – located between Po Lam and Lam Tin – were flooded on Monday, adding residents were helping each other before the arrival of government aid.

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He said there was a lack of an interdepartmental system to tackle flooding.


Yau urged the government to list the village as a flooding black spot and ensure measures to protect residents.

Chairman of the Kwun Tong District Wilson Or Chong-shing called on the department to review drainage facilities and closely monitor the daily maintenance and drainage of underground water ditches in the area.

A record black rainstorm alert issued at 11.05pm on Thursday lasted for more than 16 hours, with the city reporting the most amount of rain ever collected in an hour. The Observatory headquarters logged 158.1mm (6.2 inches) of rain between 11pm and midnight that day, the highest since records began in 1884.

Additional reporting by Harvey Kong