Nightly News   |  December 08, 2012

Hong Kong offers insight into storm prep

Hong Kong gets slammed with seven tropical storms a year on average and escapes flooding with a drainage system that looks like a set from a James Bond movie. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> meantime in one of the most populated places on earth not too far from the philippines, folks survived powerful storms like that one and like superstorm sandy just about every year. bouncing back in a matter of hours or days. and after sandy, a lot of american cities are taking note of how hong kong got disaster ready. we get our report tonight from nbc's ian williams .

>> reporter: it was the fiercest storm in 13 years, battering hong kong last july with the same intensity that superstorm sandy unleashed on the northeast. but nobody died, and this city quickly returned to normal.

>> here in hong kong , we know it will happen every year. so we're all prepared.

>> reporter: hong kong has a lot in common with new york , but this concrete jungle is lashed by an average of seven tropical storms a year.

>> you can see the structure. the eye structure.

>> reporter: an elaborate warning system grazed an approaching storm.

>> the number 10 signal is now in force.

>> reporter: triggering at its worst the complete shutdown of the city.

>> it clear lly warns the people where there are threats.

>> reporter: hong kong escapes flooding with a drain system that looks like a set from a james bond movie .

>> we have two of this kind.

>> reporter: a vast underground reservoir with a capacity of 40 olympic swimming pools. you'd never imagine standing here now, that above us is one of the most congested parts of the cities. barriers protect power stations from storm surge . substations are built on raised ground. and here the lights rarely go out. the utilities say they've not had a major outage in 40 years. even the airport roof is designed to flex and lift with the wind like the wings of these aircraft which are rarely grounded for more than a few hours. and this would withstand quite a load. unlike new york , hong kong is mountainous, and that creates its own challenges. this fence is so strong, it's designed to withstand a barrage of boulders. landslides may be more of a problem here in new york , but the lesson is the same. plan ahead. and in this city, planning ahead is almost second nature. ian williams , nbc news, hong kong .