Five years ago yesterday, November 8, one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit the country struck the Visayas region—Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan, causing massive death and damage as strong winds and rain pounded structures and destroyed nearly everything in its path. Whenever a typhoon makes landfall, among the chief hazards that people usually experience—and was very evident during Typhoon Yolanda–is flooding.
With just a few hours of rainfall, inland areas such as Metro Manila turn into vast lakes of murky floodwaters, the effects of which range from being a mere nuisance to being a serious threat to peoples’ lives. This is caused by extreme rainfall, similar to what occurred during Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, when the amount of rainfall that takes place in a certain period of time is much greater than average.
During Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, however, inland flooding was not to blame for the devastation that struck, but rather storm surges. In this case, deaths were associated with massive coastal flooding generated by storm surges that came roaring onshore as the center of the Haiyan raced overland, leaving tens of thousands, without homes and livelihood. Often mistaken for a tidal wave or tsunami, storm surges must be expected among coastal areas during typhoons. Typhoon Yolanda was truly a cataclysmic disaster that affected millions across Visayas, and its impact just cannot be ignored.
Drowning is a major cause of death during massive flooding and storm surges, and in a country of people living along vulnerable coastlines, the risk for mass casualty events like this cannot be ruled out in the future.
Disaster can strike at any moment, that is why it is important to understand the dynamics behind it which enables us to act in a timely manner and to prepare adequately for its impact. We believe that arming people with sufficient weather knowledge is key to empowering communities so they could start creating proactive disaster initiatives.
While we cannot predict some weather systems such as thunderstorms and floods, bulletins issued by PAGASA, as well as daily updates from private weather organizations such as WeatherPhilippines may be used to anticipate and prepare for possible impacts of heavy rainfall brought by various weather conditions. Disaster preparedness and education help a lot in mitigating damage to property and loss of lives. Ultimately, it pays to be #WeatherWiser!