SINGAPORE — When Upper Bukit Timah resident Florence Lee, 62, first received notice to attend a town hall meeting on Saturday (Sept 23), she and her neighbours thought it was just a harmless emergency preparedness drill.
But when she realised that the 100kg bomb found along Upper Bukit Timah Road was real and could also pose a danger should she remain at home, Ms Lee recalled making hurried arrangements so that her 95-year-old wheelchair-bound mother and her domestic helper had somewhere to go.
She enlisted the help of her niece, who took a day of leave from work to help care for Ms Lee’s mother at her home.
As for Ms Lee herself, she followed the instructions in her evacuation notice to evacuate by 8am, and got up bright and early in order to reach Senja-Cashew Community Club (CC), which was earmarked as a temporary holding area for affected residents in the nearby Housing and Development Board block and condominiums.
Initially worried that there would be a large mass of people seeking refuge there, her anxiety dissipated as soon as she saw the amenities that the CC prepared for the residents.
Only around 60 people chose to hunker down in the CC’s holding rooms as of around 12pm. An explosion could be heard when the controlled detonation began at around 12:28pm, and the bomb was successfully disposed of at 1.45pm, the police said in a Facebook post.
There were ample snacks and refreshments provided, noted Ms Lee.
There was also a function room for people to watch movies, as well as art classes. Also available was a quiet room for those who need to work or study, as well as a special hall provided for residents who brought their pets along.
“(The holding area) is very comfortable. The place is airy and fully air-conditioned and not crowded,” said Ms Lee, who lives in a flat at Block 154 Gangsa Road, about 1km away from the CC.
The bomb, a relic from World War II, was first discovered on Sept 20 at a condominium construction site along Upper Bukit Timah Road during excavation works.
Following an assessment by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) explosive ordinance disposal team that it was unsafe to be moved and a controlled on-site detonation was necessary, evacuation notices were sent out over the weekend to nearby residents.
The police said on Sunday they will effect a 200m cordon around the war relic during the on-site disposal period and road closure will also be imposed in the vicinity from 11am.
A 100kg bomb was previously disposed of in 2016, according to a video posted on the Singapore Army’s Facebook at the time which depicted the disposal of the war relic at a construction site in Mandai.
Students from the nearby Greenridge Secondary School were placed on home-based learning, while Downtown Line services were temporarily halted during the controlled detonation as an “added precaution”.
Over at pet supplies and care services provider Rock N Ruff, its owner Derrick Tan said his team had to work together with pet owners to find alternative arrangements for the 20 animals or so under its daycare and boarding services.
“But on top of that, we have about 20 or so rescued animals too, which also need to be vacated by 8am tomorrow,” said Mr Tan, 42, who also heads animal welfare group Voices for Animals.
“So my volunteers are here, some are taking some of the animals home. Some are taking the dogs back to shelter, so it’s a big logistical effort,” he said, adding that he roped in 15 or so volunteers to help out.
The plan was to bring the rest of the animals to Senja-Cashew CC, where there would be a holding area for pets too.