July 24 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong retailers and banks reopened and the city cleaned up its streets after Severe Typhoon Vicente, the most intense storm to hit the former British colony since 1999, swept into China.
The Hong Kong Observatory cut its storm warning level to No. 1, the lowest signal, as workers cleared debris-littered streets. Trading at the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. resumed at 1 p.m. after the morning session was canceled.
“We were worried we won’t be able to buy anything if there was another storm tomorrow,” said Fang Qing, a tourist from Dalian, China, who purchased two bags of shoes and clothes after spending an hour waiting for shops in the city’s central business district to reopen.
The government closed all schools and public clinics yesterday as strong winds and heavy rain emptied streets, toppled trees and closed ports. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the city’s biggest carrier, which halted all local operations last night, said flights continue to be disrupted.
“Vicente continues to move inland and weaken gradually,” the observatory said in a statement posted on its website.
Retailers including Apple Inc., Gucci Group, Coach Inc. and Folli Follie all have shops in the city’s central district. The city is dependent on Chinese tourists to drive sales, with the economic slowdown in the mainland dragging retail-sales growth in Hong Kong to its weakest pace since 2009 in May.
Trucks and carts dotted the streets as deliveries were made, and office employees wore flip-flops and sandals to work as they navigated slippery pavements.
Bus companies suspended 56 routes and diverted 15 because of fallen trees and road closures, the government said in a statement at 3:15 p.m. Some ferry services resumed, it said.
A total of 138 people sought hospital treatment, according to the Hospital Authority. Authorities are dealing with one landslide, seven instances of flooding and as many as 1,033 reports of fallen trees, the government said in a statement at 10:48 a.m.
Port operators said they restarted gate services. MTR Corp.’s trains resumed operations after some were disrupted this morning by damaged cables and fallen trees.
“Yesterday was pretty scary,” said Tang Yanni, who was on holiday in Hong Kong with her family from Fuzhou, China. “We got completely soaked” while at tourist attraction Ocean Park.
Typhoon Vicente was centered about 440 kilometers west of Hong Kong at 5 p.m., and is forecast to cross China’s Guangxi region, the observatory said.
“We know flights have been delayed, but we plan to head to the airport to check out the latest situation,” said Fanny Lai, a 30-year-old clerk who was scheduled to fly to Taiwan.
More than 100 subway passengers were stranded overnight when the No. 10 signal was hoisted, RTHK said on its website. The last time the highest warning level was raised was for Typhoon York in 1999, the government-run broadcaster said.
Banks in the city resumed operations two hours after the lowering of the typhoon signal, the Hong Kong Association of Banks said.
“The weather isn’t that bad,” said Katherine Li, a 29-year-old clerk, at the Central train station. “I waited for a cab for 20 minutes to rush back to the office, and the driver asked for an additional HK$150. I took the train.”
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