CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Battered but still standing after Typhoon Mangkhut

HONG KONG (SE): Typhoon Mangkhut was the most powerful to hit Hong Kong since records began in 1946 and brought record levels of storm surge too, with flood waters reaching their highest since 1904. The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the Number 10 typhoon signal—the highest— for 10 hours on Sunday, September 16.
Sunday Masses were cancelled in the parishes across the city. It may be sheer coincidence that a number of Signal 8 typhoons that hit Hong Kong in the recent past were on Sundays.  
Rising waves along the coastline, falling trees and shattered windows brought extensive damage to the city. A storm surge up to four metres flooded low-lying areas while gale force winds caused buildings to sway back and forth.
Many churches across Hong Kong have reported damage to their premises. Carmelite Father Heribertus Heru Purwanto, the director of the Catholic Reteat Centre in Shek O, reported in a telephone conversation with the Kung Kao Po that “the kitchen windows of the retreat house was blown away by the wind and (there was) damage to the dining room as well, causing water leakage.” 
He said, “All the retreat programmes for the week are suspended in the centre. We cannot accommodate the retreatants for this week and we have contacted those who had booked the place and informed them of the cancellation of events He expects the repair work to be completed with in a week. 
The sisters and residents of St. Mary’s Home for the Aged in Wong Chuk Hang, had a frightening Sunday as Typhoon Mangkhut stormed through the campus, uprooting several trees in the courtyard and shattering windows. However, no one was injured in the incident. The Little Sisters of the Poor, who take care of the elderly in the centre, were thankful to the team of volunteers who cleaned up the premises immediately after the typhoon let up. A group of seminarians from the Holy Spirit Seminary and over 30 parishioners gathered to clear the debris from the footpath and the way to the chapel.  
St. Teresa’s Church in Kowloon, sustained damage as the gale-force winds ripped off the tile roofing of the 95-year-old bulding on the Sunday morning. Guadalupe Missionary Father Gabriel Altamirano Ortega, the parish priest, said that the windows of the priests’ quarters were also damaged, but that no one was injured. 
It was feared that Tai O would be severly hit as the fishing village is home for hundreds of fishermen living in stilt houses and the area is prone to flooding owing to its low-lying position on the western coast of Lantau Island. Some of the stilt houses are over 100 years old and have steel roofs that are prone to breaking apart in strong winds. 
By Saturday afternoon, most of the residents had been evacuated to the nearby Lung Tin Estate, which was built on higher ground. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel in Tai O, was also prepared to accommodate people in case of emergency. However, some decided to remain in their homes despite the flood warnings. 
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception also sustained some minor damage to the church windows. 
A few fallen trees and branches from the Botanical Gardens, next to Caritas on Caine Road, partially blocked the road leading up from Glenealy and forced the temporary closure of the underground pedestrian passage.

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