'It was so sudden': Storm took Yishun, Chong Pang residents by surprise

'It was so sudden': Storm took Yishun, Chong Pang residents by surprise

Fallen tree outside Yishun Secondary School
A child looking at a tree that fell near Yishun Secondary School on Tuesday (Jan 30). (Photo: Fann Sim)

SINGAPORE: Residents and store owners in the north of Singapore said that Tuesday evening's (Jan 30) storm caught them by surprise, as they took stock of the damage caused by heavy rain, strong wind and falling trees and branches. 

In Chong Pang, a large tree branch fell on one of the tents housing a pasar malam, or night market.

Branch falls on Chong Pang tent
A fallen tree branch on the tent of a night market in Chong Pang on Tuesday (Jan 30). (Photo: Fann Sim)

“It happened very suddenly and we had no time to keep or stow away our things," said a stall owner who wanted to be identified as Mr Ker.

"A huge tree branch fell on the tent and damaged the metal parts. My workers were so scared they ran into the HDB blocks to hide," he added. "The pasar malam management said they'd come and replace the tent but I’m not sure when."

Mr Ker added that the wind blew away the boards they used for displaying Chinese New Year decorations. 

Branch falls on Chong Pang tent
Fallen branches outside a Chong Pang night market on Tuesday (Jan 30). (Photo: Fann Sim)


Yishun resident Mr Kennady said the storm caused lights at a coffee shop there to go out. 

He told Channel NewsAsia it had been "very hot" prior to the storm and there had been no indication it would rain. "Then the rain started and people around me were looking at the weather (sic) because it was so sudden," he said.

"There was also very heavy thunder and lightning all the lights at the coffee shop went out."

"There were a lot of people, including students, working people, and they were looking for places to wait. They couldn't sit in the coffee shop because rain was spraying," he said. "It’s the first time I've seen such big rain."

The storm also uprooted a tree near Yishun Secondary School.

"Look at the tree," Mr Kennady said. 

"The roots don't look like they're enough to hold the tree. Luckily nobody parked here. Usually it’s full."

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who is MP for the Nee Soon GRC, confirmed that "exceptionally heavy rain and winds, and hailstones" on Tuesday resulted in "damage to property, as well as uprooted trees". 

"Thankfully no one was injured," he said, adding that fellow MP, Associate Professor Faishal Muhammad Ibrahim, had gone around Nee Soon to assess the situation and had met staff and residents. Dr Lee Bee Wah and Mr Louis Ng also helped "coordinate responses to the situation", he added. 

"Our Town Council officers and contractors have been working hard all night since yesterday to arrange the clearing of the debris in various locations," said Mr Shanmugam. 

He also said that in Chong Pang, "stormy weather temporarily disrupted the trade fair" and that "electricity for the lighting was temporarily shut down for safety reasons". 

The Nee Soon Town Council said it has "a regular schedule to inspect, maintain and prune the trees in the estate". 

"Any abnormalities would be attended to immediately," it added. "Even before yesterday's storm, our team of certified arborists had already stepped up checks."

A general household items store in Yishun was shuttered after rain and strong winds caused its retractable awning to give way and display racks to topple over. 

The shopkeeper, who wanted to be identified only as Mrs Teo, told Channel NewsAsia that she was arranging products on the display at R & S Budget House at about 5pm when she saw flashes of lightning, followed by a loud crash. 

When Channel NewsAsia visited the scene at 8pm, Mrs Teo and her employers were still cleaning up debris and disposing of damaged goods. 

Yishun damage collage
The shop's retractable awning gave way during the heavy rain. (Photos: Hazlina Abdul Halim) 

Repairs and damages to the inventory could set the shop back by S$4,000 to S$6,000, said Mrs Teo. 

There were no injuries, she said, adding that the shop would likely be closed until Wednesday. 

The storm felled several trees, including one on Tampines Expressway, and also caused a flash flood that briefly closed off a road in Seletar. 

Hailstones were also reported in Ang Mo Kio and Seletar.

Additional reporting by Hazlina Abdul Halim.

Source: CNA/hs