Super Typhoon Megi hits The Philippines
As many may have heard, the Philippines has just been hit by Super Typhoon Megi. Heavy rains with winds up to 260km/h (150mph): this is the biggest Typhoon to hit the Philippines in the past 4 years. Already at a maximum category 5 level, there simply is no higher level.
On average the Philippines gets about 4 big typhoons a year. This is not counting many smaller ones. Last year Typhoon Ketsana hit the capital with the loss of 100 lives and many thousands made homeless. Heroic Tales of surviving the typhoon emerged. Quickly followed by a finger pointing at the government for not being ready.
Was this year any different?
Early warning for an incoming Typhoon
Unless you are online 24/7 looking for earthquakes, typhoon, hurricanes, flash floods and any other natural or man made disaster, it’s in my experience, as a traveler, you will only learn about this as it’s about to hit.
And, only then if you happen to be watching international news, or you notice the locals looking a little bit more “talkative” than
There are a few reasons for this:
- most travelers are on vacation, and will not be watching the news
- many locals don’t want to alarm the tourist
- many locals will presume you know already
What should a tourist do if a typhoon hits when you are on holiday?
- Stay calm, surviving a typhoon or even a super typhoon is not difficult.
- As mentioned above, the chances are it will already be upon you by the time you find out. So, there is little point in trying to fly out, or take a long distance bus to avoid it. In fact, it will probably be more dangerous to do this. So, stay put, and wait it out.
- Don’t even think about taking a bus the next day, or the day after. Surviving a typhoon is not just about high winds. Landslides and mudslides occur not only during a typhoon, but also in the days following. Don’t forget, just because the main typhoon passes does not mean the rain will have stopped.
- Make sure your accommodation is reasonably secure. In other words staying in a three story bamboo tree house is probably not the best place to be if you want to survive. A good sturdy hotel is usually the best option for a tourist.
- Try to find someone, or something that can give you an accurate assessment of what is happening, and the typhoons severity / duration.
- If you have time, stock up on water, food, batteries for flashlights. There’s no need to go overboard, but it’s important to have something to get you through the next 2 days. Shops will likely be closed, if you’re in the center of a typhoon. Running around the streets during a typhoon is not advisable.
- Stay indoors. Surviving debris that’s blowing around is not something that’s “fun” to do. Corrugated roof tops, electricity poles, wooden planks, and all manner of loose material will be flying around in the air. Again, stay put.
- In the event of an emergency: do as the locals do. They’ve been there before, and will have a better idea of what’s going on (even if it seems they don’t). Evacuation should it be needed will be done in a local language. So keep your head straight and just follow along. Help people where it’s needed.
Emergency procedures for surviving this super typhoon
I only learned about Typhoon Megi the night before. And, it was by chance as I flicked on a TV, which I rarely do. Confusion still rocks, as internationally it seems the Typhoon is known as Megi, and locally it’s known as Juan. Why is this? It’s confusing and surely can’t be of much use having two names?
However, the media is reporting that farmers were warned up to a day in advance to harvest what they could now. This is because after the typhoon, there would be nothing left.
Fishermen were banned from putting their boats to sea.
Evacuation of high danger areas began in earnest. And, residents in other areas began a move up to higher grounds.
The emergency services and military were mobilized to prepare for a worst case scenario.
Compared to previous typhoons
For the first time since my arrival in The Philippines I must say that the preparation for this typhoon has been taken seriously. And, it’s pretty good to see it happen.
There is a marked difference in improvement to the way the Philippines is handling this, compared to previous natural disasters. At least from where I am watching events unfold.
Whether this is due to Typhoon Ketsanah devastating the capital last year and shaking the establishment up. Or whether it’s due to a new government, or due to new systems being put in place. Or, a combination. But, either way, it looks like it’s been well handled. At long last.
“This is like preparing for war,” Ramos, a retired army general, told The Associated Press. “We know the past lessons, and we’re aiming for zero casualties.” (source)
It should be noted that the Typhoon this time is much further north in Luzon. Manila is basically untouched by it, so it’s mainly rural areas. Which may account for the difference in loss of life as well.
Surviving a typhoon goes on well past the storm itself
Don’t forget that even if the death toll is reduced this year. This typhoon will have destroyed a whole rice season harvest. Washed
aways roads. Caused water shortages, electricity blackouts, and communication problems. Not to mention, wiped away and destroyed entire homes.
The aftermath of such typhoons is not just about surviving the typhoon itself, but surviving the days and months that follow.
Every typhoon has a silver lining
There is already at least one death reported from Typhoon Megi. And, I am sure many thousands of people will have been affected by the Typhoons damaging path.
But hopefully the precautionary measures taken, and implemented have saved many lives. And, reduced a lot of tragedy this time round.
The Philippines is at the forefront of some of the world’s biggest typhoon areas. If it steps up, it could one day become a world leader in Typhoon preparation and disaster recovery.
It’s not unheard of before. Learn from overcoming your obstacles , and you can then benefit from being at the forefront due to your leadership and experience.
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Some true life pain
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