Last year Macau experienced the fiercest typhoon to hit the territory since 1968. Typhoon Hato also lashed Hong Kong and Zhuhai but neither city suffered damage close to the scale of that visited on Macau.
Whether you are new to Macau or have lived here for years, last year’s typhoon caught us all off guard. With the benefit of hindsight, here are some suggestions—for tenants and owners alike—to be better prepared for future typhoons.
Take out home contents insurance. It’s important to check the small print that cover is provided for damage caused by flooding and typhoon 3 and above. We’ve been greatly surprised that not one of our tenants had insured their personal possessions, and several lost many thousands of dollars of electronic equipment, TV, sound systems, laptops, and furnishings, such as sofas and bed mattresses.
Keep several battery-powered flashlights (and candles) easy to hand in case of power cuts.
Keep rolls of packing tape to tape up your windows in a diagonal cross ahead of any future typhoons.
Fill some buckets with water for emergency supplies for cooking, washing, and even drinking in case the water supply is suspended.
Keep some basic food items handy—tinned and dried goods, bottles of water, etc.
Remove plant pots and furniture from the balcony.
Charge your mobile and any backup batteries and laptop so you have sufficient power in case of electricity suspension.
Ensure that your windows are firmly secured; if you have handles that don’t close properly, tape them up. Some argue that to keep a window open at the front and the back of your home helps a through-wind and stops the pressure building up, causing windows to break. But honestly Typhoon Hato’s wind gusts were just too strong for this—open windows could easily be ripped off their hinges.
If you have a car that’s parked in an underground car park that is susceptible to flooding, you should consider moving it to a hotel or residential car park that has above ground parking. The Broadway hotel-casino and the One Central car parks are some examples. The hourly rate will be expensive for a day or so, but it will be a small cost compared to losing your whole car to flooding. Hundreds of cars were lost in Typhoon Hato, and the poor owners not only lose their mode of transport but if their car is still under mortgage they of course still have to continue paying their installments.
Keep an eye on the Hong Kong Observatory forecast and Hong Kong TV—not only is the forecast better informed and more timely than has proved to be in Macau but HK TV will provide up-to-date information and news, whereas we found nothing on the Macau TV channels.
During the Typhoon
Don’t use the elevators in your building, in case of sudden power suspension.
If you feel it necessary, and depending on the damage your home has sustained, stay in the lift lobby for security, or take the fire escape stairs to the ground floor lobby.
Take photographs and video of any damage for insurance and other reporting purposes.
Clear out all personal effects and valuables and remove curtains from rooms that have broken windows.
Try as best you can to mop up excess water from the floor, especially if you have wooden or engineered wood floors; water will quickly seep underneath which in turn will start the floor “lifting”.
If bedroom windows are broken, move the bed mattress to a dry place elsewhere in your home; most bedframes can survive getting wet for a short while but mattresses cannot and they are also a high-cost item if they have to be replaced.
Plan what you may need from your refrigerator and freezer, and then once these are taken out, keep the doors firmly closed. If there’s a power cut, you want to keep your chilled and frozen items for as long as possible
Tenants—inform your real estate agent immediately of any damage so that they, in turn, can inform your landlord.
If living in a relatively new property with a decent property management company, register your apartment damage with them. One Oasis management was quite quick to respond by boarding up the many broken windows.
If you have insurance, inform your insurance broker.
Keep an eye on the social media; in Macau the government announced financial assistance to help cover repair expenses.
Hong Kong Observatory www.hko.gov.hk
For any queries on these tips on Macau’s real estate, Suzanne Watkinson welcomes you to contact her.