Super Typhoon Meranti slams Taiwan, forcing evacuations and bringing widespread damage; China braces itself

By Pam Wright, Weather.com

Super Typhoon Meranti brought heavy rains and widespread damage to southwest Taiwan Wednesday, forcing evacuations and leaving thousands without power.

The most powerful storm of 2016 washed away cars, flooded streets and reportedly washed dozens of boats away.

Nearly 1,000 people living in mountainous areas in southern Taiwan were evacuated in case of mudslides, including 543 in Kaohsiung's Taoyuan District, and 120 in Chiayi's Meishan District, according to Focus Taiwan.

In Hong Kong, a typhoon standby signal has been issued.

About 260,000 households were without power due to the storm, according to CNN. Most of the outages occurred in Pingtung, Taitung and Hualien counties. Two nuclear power plants were shut down as a precautionary measure and a third was switched over to gas turbines and diesel generators to maintain power, according to SET TV.

After hundreds of containers blew off a Kaohsiung freighter, the ship was carried away by heavy seas, reports the TV station.

Schools and offices in several municipalities in southern Taiwan and some eastern areas will be closed Wednesday, government officials announced Tuesday night local time, reports Focus Taiwan. Those include Kaohsiung City and Pingtung, Hualien, Taitung and Penghu counties.

National Dong Hwa University in Hualien County also canceled Wednesday classes.

(MORE: Latest on Super Typhoon Meranti)

According to the Taipei Times, officials with the Maritime Port Bureau said 28 maritime services were suspended for Tuesday and Wednesday, most of them to the outlying Orchid and Green islands. On Monday, ferry operators were helping to evacuate tourists from the islands, Taiwan News reported.

Many villages are poorly equipped to withstand another battering, after Super Typhoon Nepartak hit the island in July, according to the China Post.

In particular, Xianglan village in Taidong has not had enough time to reconstruct since the storm. With news that another powerful typhoon is headed their way, villagers are frantically attempting to repair damaged homes and strengthen roofs before the storm hits.

In Pingtung County, the main local bus company suspended Wednesday's service. The Kinmen County government said charter ship service between Taichung and Kinmen counties were canceled Tuesday.

Flight and train schedules were canceled as the first rain bands arrived in the country on Tuesday.

The state-owned Taiwan Water Corp. reminded residents to store water ahead of Meranti's arrival, according to Focus Taiwan. Officials warn that the storm may cause poor water quality and disrupt the water supply during the four-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, which begins Thursday.

People took to social media to share photos of the sky, which took on an ominous orange tint prior to the storm's arrival.

Preparations in China

Wednesday the Hong Kong Observatory issued typhoon standby signal No. 1, the South China Morning Post reports. The No. 1 rating means the cyclone is centered within almost 500 miles of Hong Kong and could affect the territory.

The Observatory also issued a hot weather warning.

"People staying indoors without air-conditioning should keep windows open as far as possible to ensure that there is adequate ventilation," the department warned in a statement obtained by the Post.

China.org reports that local authorities in the Chinese provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan as well as Shanghai are closely monitoring the typhoon, according to a statement by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission for Disaster Reduction (NCDR).

Fishing boats were asked to return to port and take shelter, while business owners and residents along the shore were urged to brace for the typhoon.

RELATED: See photos of Typhoon Dujuan:

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Typhoon Dujuan China Taiwan
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Typhoon Dujuan China Taiwan
Super Typhoon Dujuan approaches Taiwan in this true color image taken by the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS image around 0455Z on September 28, 2015. (Photo via NOAA)
Waves crash into a pier in Hui'an county in Quanzhou, east China's Fujian province on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan has killed three people and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan, authorities said on September 29 after it swept across the island before making landfall in eastern China. It hit the Chinese coastal city of Putian by afternoon, state news agency said, but there were no immediate reports of damage. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A local resident collects stones from the Xindian river after Typhoon Dujuan passed in the New Taipei City on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan killed two and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan before making landfall in China. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman uses an umbrella against strong wind and rain brought by typhoon Dujuan at Tamshui district, New Taipei City on September 28, 2015. More than 7,000 people were evacuated in Taiwan as 'super typhoon' Dujuan swirled towards the island, gathering strength as it bore down on the east coast. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Super Typhoon Dujuan approaches Taiwan in this infrared channel image taken by the Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument around 0455Z on September 28, 2015. (Photo via NOAA)
A monk makes his way through a flooded square in front of a temple as typhoon Dujuan brought heavy rains in Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang province on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan has killed three people and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan, authorities said On September 29 after it swept across the island before making landfall in eastern China. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A huge wave crashes over a wall as two people ride on a scooter over a pier in Hui'an county in Quanzhou, east China's Fujian province on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan has killed three people and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan, authorities said on September 29 after it swept across the island before making landfall in eastern China. It hit the Chinese coastal city of Putian by afternoon, state news agency said, but there were no immediate reports of damage. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A security guard takes a photo of debris at the Xindian river banks in the New Taipei City on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan killed two and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan before making landfall in China. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Local residents walk past damaged fences by the Xindian river banks in the New Taipei City on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan killed two and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan before making landfall in China. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A local resident catches fish with a net from the Xindian river after Typhoon Dujuan passed in the New Taipei City on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan killed two and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan before making landfall in China. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A local resident casts his net from the Xindian river after Typhoon Dujuan passed in the New Taipei City on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan killed two and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan before making landfall in China. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A local resident checks his cellphone next to debris by the Xindian river banks in the New Taipei City on September 29, 2015. Super typhoon Dujuan killed two and left more than 300 injured in Taiwan before making landfall in China. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stands guard along the Tamshui river as typhoon Dujuan approaches Tamshui district, New Taipei City on September 28, 2015. More than 7,000 people were evacuated in Taiwan as 'super typhoon' Dujuan swirled towards the island, gathering strength as it bore down on the east coast. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman uses an umbrella against strong wind and rain brought by typhoon Dujuan at Tamshui district, New Taipei City on September 28, 2015. More than 7,000 people were evacuated in Taiwan as 'super typhoon' Dujuan swirled towards the island, gathering strength as it bore down on the east coast. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman walks along a road through strong wind and rain brought by typhoon Dujuan at Tamshui district, New Taipei City on September 28, 2015. More than 7,000 people were evacuated in Taiwan as 'super typhoon' Dujuan swirled towards the island, gathering strength as it bore down on the east coast. AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
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