The 1937 Typhoon
Extracts from Green Jade by Dorothy Neale, Chris Neale, Goulbourn, 1995, pp. 36-37.
On 2nd September, 1937 the worst typhoon ever recorded hit the colony (…) There was plenty of warning, but even so a lot of damage and loss of life was recorded on a chart we have framed, hanging on our back verandah here. Thirty-six ships were sunk, wrecked ashore or damaged. The high tides flooded roads and buildings on the island and Kowloon, and fish were blown out of the sea onto buildings 20 ft above ground. It was estimated that the loss of life exceeded 10,000 in that one night. (…)
Freddie came home and he, Sid and Bill put up the typhoon bars on all doors and windows. These were thick pieces of wood with pads about the size of a writing pad attached and these pressed against the glass panes. The bars slipped into metal brackets each side of the doors and windows. Rugs were lifted and draped over furniture and shoes put up high.
We all took deck chairs and pillows etc. onto the upstairs landing where we felt we would be safe from flying glass if any of the windows blew in. Then No. 10 signal went up and the maroons (guns) were fired and we all sat tight. The noise of the wind was like a dozen trains passing the house and our ears were aching with the pressure on our eardrums. It was difficult to see out of the windows when we took a quick look, because the leaves from trees were blown onto the glass and stuck there, but I did see a sheet of corrugated tin fly past in the air and slice a thin, tall palm tree in half. (…)
The electricity and telephone went off, but we had torches and the men went around checking through the night. The eye of the typhoon hit the colony from one direction, passed on and then slewed around and came in from the opposite direction. (…) The old cook boy arrived about 8am, looking rather bedraggled as all the roads were blocked by fallen trees and debris, and in his solemn way he apologised for being late “to catchee Master breakfast”. Freddie could not drive the car to the office because of the blocked roads, but he got there somehow. Then reports of the tremendous damage to shipping and the loss of life came in.