Phillipines Battered by Typhoon Hagupit


The Phillipines was battered by Typhoon Hagupit Saturday, causing approximately 1 million residents to be evacuated from the coastal areas to higher altitude. Government officials said it landed at Dolores around 9:15 pm with wind gusts reaching 130 mph. The government is concerned about potential loss of life and property owing to the fact that people are yet to rebuild their structures from the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan, which swept through the country last year killing more than 7,000 people and displacing more than 4 million.

Police spokesman Alex Robin said there was no electricity in Dolores leading to total darkness. He added that the heavy rains have toppled many trees,sending them to the roads.

Richard Gordon, an official of the Phillipines Red Cross, said the organization had evacuated approximately 100,000 people. He said many of them still lived in tent structures that they erected after Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in the area last year.

Hagupit is the strongest storm to hit the Phillipines this year. Dalia Amaya, an official of the Catholic Relief Services, said people were still nervous as Hagupit came close to Haiyan. Some lost relatives from last year’s storm, and they are still traumatized.

Heavy rain and strong winds are expected to sweep through the Phillipines in the coming days. The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicts that the storm will likely pass near Manila, Phillipine’s capital city. There are concerns that this may cause extensive damage to millions who live in that area. It may take as many as three days for the rain and winds to sweep through the Phillipines.

The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center said the Storm was not as strong as was expected. The Japan meteorological Agency also lowered its expectations. While agency had termed it as “very strong,” it lowered the designation to “violent.”

Even though Typhoon Haiyan passed through the Phillipines briefly last year, it brought a storm that sent gushes of water to the low lands, flooding schools and toppling houses in Tacloban. It raised the water level to as high as high as 17 feet. The government says typhoon Hagupit is likely to bring surges that will be as high as 15 feet as strong winds and heavy rains batter the region.

Elsa Thomasma, who lives in Tacloban, told NBC NEWS that the heavy rain and wind made it impossible to assess the damage to the area due to poor visibility. She is originally from Michigan but is currently working in the Philippines.

Acairoe Fourth, whose family lives in Leyte province, said that his relatives had reinforced their house to make it storm-resistant. They have decided to remain in the area during the storm surge. Acairoe told NBC NEWS that villages lacked quality evacuation structures similar to those found in cities in the Philippines.

Dinky Soliman, Philippine’s Social Welfare Secretary, said that the approximately 500,000 residents have been moved from the low altitude areas. The Associated Press reported that the government stationed police in areas affected by the storm to prevent the type of looting that occurred after Typhoon Haiyan swept through the country last year. As the Philippines continues to be battered by Typhoons almost every year, the U.N Global Disaster Alert System estimated that Typhoon Hagupit will affect lives of close to 32 million people in the long term.

By Benedicto Ateku

The New York Times
Photo image courtesy of European Commission DG ECHO Flickr License

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