The rain storm which originated from the edge of Typhoon Goni hit the area with the school transport system already in motion. The result was wide spread and very serious flooding and road grid lock as the heavy commuter traffic ground to a halt with vehicles unable to get on and off some of the main highways.
The response from the school community was incredible. The staff went into action clearing up where necessary and doing all that they could to assist parents and students (including in some instances carrying children into school) as they arrived at school to be faced with rising flood waters in the street outside the campus and in the surrounding roads.
We were fortunate that the building itself was relatively unaffected and stood up very well indeed to the torrential rain. Other local schools and compounds were not so lucky and suffered significant damage. As the local flooding became steadily worse and cars had been flooded and abandoned in the streets, a small number of our buses were forced to turn back. As it became clear that the situation was getting gradually worse, the decision was made to close for the day and to organise for those students who had made it to school to be transported home safely.
The students were also very calm and patient in the circumstances. Some of them endured long bus journeys into school only to find that after some refreshments that they would have to return home because of growing concerns about safe road access and exit to and from the site.
What we experienced yesterday was really extreme. The school and its systems coped very well indeed and we were able to ensure safe passage for our students. There are also, as is always the case in such difficult circumstances, things that we can and indeed have learned from the emergency situation that unfolded in front of us. The speed with which we can change the main announcement on the front page of the website, for example, was too slow when the situation on the ground was changing so fast. We have worked with the Head Office team in HK and overnight made changes that allow for a practically instant change to our messaging when necessary. In these circumstances in future we will also make more use of our answerphone messaging to improve our ability to deal with the level of telephone enquiries.
We are delighted to be operating normally again today and we are looking forward to getting on with the business of supporting our students to be the best that they can be. Our thoughts are with those who are counting the cost of yesterday’s flooding and still dealing with its aftermath.