Editorial: Get ready for Yolanda-A A +A
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
IF typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan stays on track and does not weaken, it will arrive in the Visayas on Friday with winds stronger than those of super typhoon Ruping.
Those of us who lived or worked in Cebu on Nov. 10-14, 1990 remember Ruping’s tracks well. Its center winds, which spun at 145 to 200 kilometers per hour, left more than 200 dead in Central Visayas alone. The typhoon unmoored a foreign vessel, which then hit the only bridge between Cebu and Mactan. Ruping also cut off power and water service to Cebu from one week to a month.
We remember, too, the resilience shown by the region’s residents, the concerted effort to regain our bearings and fix or replace up to P10.8 billion worth of damaged infrastructure. “The storm scarred Cebu,” a Sun.Star editorial observed then, “but also revealed its strengths.”
Yolanda is scheduled to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday morning, forcing communities in Bohol and Cebu from the disaster recovery stage back to disaster preparedness.
But unlike the earthquake that struck our communities three weeks ago, we have received and continue to receive warnings about Yolanda, including this: The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center expects the typhoon will bring 222-kph winds.
There will be time later to check on the progress we’ve made or failed to make, in enforcing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan for 2011-2028.
We’ll have many opportunities to reexamine and address “the underlying causes” that leave people vulnerable to disaster. And there will be time (and resources, for we are a resilient and resourceful lot) to “build back better.”
For now, however, let us all focus on preparing ourselves for the typhoon that approaches. Start at home. Prepare a basic family kit.
The US Federal Emergency Management Administration recommends preparing enough ready-to-eat food for three days; a gallon of clean water per person per day; a first aid kit (and maintenance medications, we may add); a transistor radio and flashlight with spare batteries; a whistle to signal for help, if needed; dust masks or a cotton shirt in case there’s a need to filter the air; and important family documents packed in a waterproof, portable container.
“Hazards become disasters only if vulnerable people and resources are exposed to them,” the plan goes. Yes, we are resilient, Cebu. This time let’s also be prepared.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 06, 2013.