With sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and gusts reaching 235 miles per hour, Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) slammed into the easternmost islands of Samar and Leyte, and bulldozed its way across the Visayas, before finally leaving through Palawan. This being the strongest tropical storm ever to hit land on record, no one was exactly prepared for the mayhem it would leave behind.
We have yet to receive reports from the eastern shoreline towns of Samar, but judging from the experience of the provincial capital city of Tacloban in Leyte, we expect the casualty figures to rise above 2,000. (Breaking news: Officials now say the death toll could hit 10,000.) Based on the typhoon’s path, we also expect damages and casualties in the northern tip of Cebu and Bantayan Island, the northern part of Iloilo and again, in northern Palawan and the island of Coron.
In Tacloban alone, power and water have not been restored. Looting has been reported, as there is a breakdown in law and order brought about by the chaos and confusion, the hunger, fear and pain. The main cause for the casualties was the storm surge – sea water rising as high as 3 floors, brought in by the strong winds – which has never been experienced here before. The storm surge caused massive floods, flushing out people hiding in their houses; but only to be left at the mercy of flying debris including entire roofs, trees and branches, and even cars.
The havoc created turned Tacloban into a virtual war-zone, with damages that could easily surpass that of the recent earthquake in Bohol. Earthquake-hit Bohol was lucky it was not along the path of the storm, considering how delicate its soil remains from the numerous sinkholes and the unstable land condition. Boholanos, having received so much support recently for the earthquake victims, are now mobilizing to extend support to their neighboring provinces of Leyte and Samar.
That said, it is obvious that the ‘New Normal’ in our climate and environmental conditions will have to be studied more carefully now. This was made clear by an official from Tacloban who said: “We are so used to storms already. But we were not prepared for one of this intensity.” It is time to review our preparations, and think of scenarios far worse than our present worst-case scenarios provide us.
For more stories on Super-Typhoon Yolanda, pls visit:
- A Survivor’s Story: The Aftermath
- Philippine Lessons in Post-Disaster Recovery
- Once Upon A Tragedy: A Photo Story of When Haiyan Struck the Philippines
- We Need More Volunteers!!!
- What was Super Typhoon Yolanda Really Like?
- What Can We Do To Help Our Yolanda Victims?
- Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better
- Help is on the Way!
- A Survivor’s Story
(Photos courtesy of mirror news, AFP/EPA, guradian.com, ndjglobalnews.com, nationalpost.com, indiatimes.com, nst.com, rediff.com)