Record rainfall -May-1957 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Record rainfall -May-1957

Record rainfall -May-1957
Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Sunday, May 26, 1957


We were confined to barracks in Sham Shui Po for 3 days, only left our hut to visit toilets and the cookhouse. Never seen rain like this before or since,remember many of the Chinese workforce in Command Workshops were washed out of their homes.

WHEN the rains came this year, they came with a vengeance, and so far the rainfall is double the amount for the same period of last year.

More than 1,550 million gallons were added to the storage in the reservoirs almost overnight. In two days there were more than 15 inches of rain, according to the official measurement. But the fall showed great variety. At Beacon Hill the rain gauge for the day of the biggest downpour (Wednesday) measured 28.2 inches—the all-time record is said to be 20.50" in May, 1889; at Kai Tak airport 18.8"; Shingmun 18”; at Tytam 11.3": at Pokfulam 7.5" and at modest Sek Kong much less.

Naturally such a downpour created havoc. The main roads between Kowloon and the New Territories, both the Castle Peak and the Taipo Roads, as well as the military roads, were blocked by landslides. Floods washed out a large stretch of the railway line between Yaumati and Shatin; suitable stones for repair were momentarily inaccessible owing to flooding; but shuttle services were arranged in “a brace of shakes." Kowloon was flooded in many areas.

A big truck vanished into a huge crater at Tai Hang, which also exposed an array of big cables belonging to the telephone, electric, and cable companies, the latter carrying most of Hongkong’s overseas traffic. A huge cavity opened up not very far from the Taikoo Dock power station, the raging underground nullah tearing away the soil. Motor-cars were almost buried in some places owing to the landslides, which swallowed up a few houses and numerous huts, causing nearly a score of fatalities and about as many missing, who were believed to have been buried under the falls. Many people were injured. The Fire Brigade, with the help of the Auxiliary Fire Service, toiled manfully amid the chaos, the Civil Air Services also rendered help, and Radio Hongkong excelled itself by its vivid eye-witness descriptions of scenes in various parts of the Colony.

The total storage by Wednesday morning exceeded 5,500 million gallons and the Water Authority, who beat the sceptics earlier in the month when he granted a substantial extension of the hours of supply, plunged right in and authorised a 16-hour daily supply straight away. Further downpours on Thursday added 1,423 million gallons to make the total 6,920 millions!

The vegetable gardens must have suffered badly, and thousands of chicken and ducks, and even some pigs, were drowned in Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, where there was five feet of water. The ricefields wore flooded but the losses may not be so great.

The strangest story of the rains was the manner in which the paint-work of a number of cars was spotted down to the steel. The suspicion it might be due to radio-activity was dispelled by a competent authority at the University, who said it could have been caused by the formation of nitric acid as a result of the thunder and lightning during Tuesday night.

As the weather began to clear up, efforts were made to get a more definite idea of the damage. The picture was a gloomy one; 18 known dead; about 30 missing and believed dead, and some 10,000 in need of assistance and resettlement owing to the loss of homes and belongings.

H.E. the Governor went to Kowloon on Thursday to see for himself the damage that had been done and the plight of the homeless. He was accompanied by the Social Welfare Officer, and watched about 5,500 people being fed and registered at the Social Welfare Office in Shamshuipo as well as a number of religious institutions where similar care was being taken of the victims.

Newspaper photo of the floods in Sham Shu Po May 1957- just found this cutting in rear of my album

Sham Shui Po flood of 1957.
Sham Shui Po flood of 1957., by Bryan Panter