The typhoon, upgraded to a severe tropical storm yesterday, was likely more serious than the infamous Hato, which battered the city roughly a year ago. For one, the World Meteorological Organisation stated that Mangkhut was the strongest tropical cyclone the year has seen so far.
It was, thus, no joke, and people feared for their safety and lives. But the number of causalities and the damage has been much less this time, with authorities alert and the prevention and response system set up seemingly way more organized and robust. With a few exceptions, like some restaurants opening on early Sunday morning, and people walking outside here and there, residents prepared to shelter at home or at designated government-provided refuges, and so they remained.
A bunch of defiant walkers trying to cross the Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge under typhoon signal No. 10, and ‘rescued’ by the police half way along, would have been the most creatively staged protest against badly behaving taxi drivers, many of whom were caught overcharging passengers yesterday. But the motives for the hazardous incursion were not clarified. And, needless to say, the risk was not worth any intention.
The remarkable decision by casino operators to close the doors of casinos on Saturday night at 11:00 pm is also worthy of mention. Probably a first and, if anything, quite a surprising stance from an industry which has long lobbied to remain active under any weather conditions. The risks the staff would have been exposed to under Mangkhut in order to keep gaming venues operating, would not have been worth a day of revenue. I suppose the business decision emanating from all six gaming operators was to focus on harvesting long-term results – being willing to sacrifice a few bucks in order to lobby for the renewal of their license concessions in the near future.
One lesson we can take from all this is that people and public bodies have learned, the hard way, but still learned. At first glance, the Macau SAR Government seems to have managed the situation in quite an agile manner, even if one could expect failures here and there – power cuts and flooding, for instance. And although, truth be told, improving their performance was not very hard given the poor management and despising political attitude during Hato, it is still worth highlighting the efforts made over the last few days. Now it is time to work on the recovery.