The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen is still reeling from the mayhem wreaked by Super Typhoon Mangkhut, when downpours, deluges and fallen trees brought the tech boom town to a standstill on Monday – well after Mangkhut made landfall in Guangdong province on Sunday afternoon – when the local government ordered a city-wide cleanup and schools, businesses and shops remained closed.
That said, the city of 20 million residents reported no severe casualties throughout Mangkhut’s passage.
While the typhoon rendered tens of thousands in the Philippines homeless when it struck the island of Luzon before bearing down on Hong Kong and southern China early last week, Shenzhen also saw gaggles of “typhoon refugees” who sought shelter in schools, in public auditoriums and even inside subway stations over the weekend.
But make no mistake here, these “refugees” were by no means poor.
They flocked to temporary shelters because their cavernous condos, usually on high floors of upmarket residential towers hundreds of meters above the ground, were either partially inundated or swaying heavily because of the violent gales.
And ironically, a dollop of deep remorse prevailed among these deep-pocketed homeowners, who once made a beeline for deluxe homes featuring unobstructed, sweeping views of Shenzhen Bay or the Pearl River Estuary.
Their pricey seascape properties with plush decors bore the brunt of the blow from Mangkhut, ranging from shattered windows and flooded floors to power outages and elevator failures.
After the delicate floor-to-ceiling windows gave in to the squalls, it was said that these owners of the most expensive homes in Shenzhen spent the past weekend battling seepages and salvaging bespoke furniture and wardrobes from their windswept homes during the day, and spent their nights in classrooms, station concourses or community halls requisitioned as temporary shelter centers for the homeless.
Local papers reported that owners at the One Shenzhen Bay, where the price of a mid-sized apartment inside the glitzy glass-curtained towers could fetch up to 40 million yuan (US$5.8 million), had to climb down 45 floors from their condos to the ground amid a power outage, and the only reason for their panicked exit was that the swaying tower amid howling winds made them dizzy.
What added insult to their injury was that they soon found their sleek sedans of foreign marques were also soaking up muddy water in the submerged underground parking garage.
By comparison, wage-earners who dwell in far less expensive units in low-rise tenement blocks in Shenzhen’s less salubrious districts relished their typhoon weekend in the safety of their cozy homes as well as their extra day off work on Monday.
A lengthy legal battle now awaits these affluent homeowner refugees, even as Shenzhen can now heave a sigh of relief as Mangkhut was quickly weakened by rugged terrain after its landfall.
Some property agents in the city now fear that prices and transactions of luxury apartments in high-rise blocks will soon take a battering, since Mangkhut has riven the fancy veneer and laid bare the potential peril of these pricey homes.