Teachers, refugees, children and office workers mobilised in Hong Kong Tuesday for a massive clean-up after Typhoon Mangkhut.
In a city with a reputation for a dog-eat-dog competitive focus, residents said the storm had given a rare opportunity for solidarity.
Hong Kong escaped without any fatalities when the storm hit Sunday. But more than 300 were injured as buildings were rocked, windows smashed, coastal areas pounded by towering waves and more than 1,000 trees were felled.
By Tuesday morning there was still extensive damage and debris across the city.
In the seafront eastern residential neighbourhood of Tseung Kwan O, around 40 local volunteers set to work.
The community, stacked with tower blocks, was mauled by winds and waves which tore up paths and roadways on the coastal promenade.
Teacher Simon Ng brought his two young daughters down to help with the clean-up.
“I would go out here for jogging, bring my kids here to play. Now it looks like a post-war situation,” Ng told AFP.
He said he hoped his children would learn about community spirit by helping out.
“I hope for them to have a sense of civic consciousness about our public places,” Ng said.
A Facebook post showing several ethnic African residents and asylum-seekers clearing tree branches from city streets went viral with almost a million views by Tuesday, prompting messages of thanks.
Refugees and asylum-seekers are marginalised in Hong Kong, unable to work or even volunteer legally.
Day 2: The Cycle of Giving Back!Our refugee community, alongside students and other members of the local community…
In the district of To Kwa Wan – home to many low-income families – a group of around 25 ethnic minority residents, asylum seekers and refugees helped cleaners who were overwhelmed with the amount of work.
“A lot of refugees wanted to do it because they’ve got no work and said ‘this is our city too’,” said Jeff Andrews, social worker for refugees with NGO Christian Action, which organised the group.