Lancy Chan was taken by surprise at the fury Typhoon Mangkhut unveiled as it smashed into Hong Kong. Although she has 13 years of experience as a claims assessor at Allianz and is used to seeing the destruction Mother Nature periodically hurls at her hometown, there was something new about Typhoon Mangkhut.
“You always expect the worst, but Mangkhut is as bad as I have ever seen,” says Lancy, looking out the window of her office window of the City Plaza complex. Although the Allianz offices are sheltered on the mainland side of Hong Kong Island at Taikoo Shing, the damage is apparent.
Debris and broken, uprooted trees lay outside. With gale force winds of 173 kilometers (107 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 223 kph (138 mph), Mangkhut was stronger than Hurricane Florence that hit North Carolina recently. The world’s strongest storm this year, Mangkhut blazed a trail of destruction across Southeast Asia. Hong Kong was directly in its path and bore the full brunt of Mangkhut before it passed over to the mainland.
The fierce, howling winds buffeted the island city tearing off roofs, toppling cranes from skyscrapers, blowing out windows from high-rise buildings and flooding low lying areas. Streets turned to rivers and fish were seen swimming in the city.
Fortunately, there were no fatalities in Hong Kong, which is well prepared for such extremes, but at least 86 casualties elsewhere have been attributed to the storm. In China, 2.45 million people were evacuated in the Guangdong province before the storm made landfall.