Live in the Philippines: Tacloban/Ormoc City

Typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban, Ormoc City, Coron and other areas in the Philippines last year
Typhoon Yolanda devastated Tacloban, Ormoc City, Coron and other areas in the Philippines last year

Reporting live from the region hit by Typhoon Yolanda last November. One year later the damage done by that super typhoon is still readily apparent.

From Wiki: “Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, on November 8, 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,300 people in that country alone. Haiyan is also the strongest storm recorded at landfall. The Hong Kong Observatory put the storm’s maximum ten-minute sustained winds at 275 km/h (170 mph) prior to landfall in the central Philippines. At 1800 UTC, the JTWC estimated the system’s one-minute sustained winds to 315 km/h (195 mph), unofficially making Haiyan the strongest tropical cyclone ever observed based on wind speed. According to UN officials, about 11 million people have been affected – many have been left homeless.”

When I first saw the images last year I got choked up and almost cried. From the air, almost all the houses in the area now have shiny new galvanized roofing that sparkles in the sun. That’s the good news – much reconstruction has been done in the last year, but of course there is still much more to do. Power poles are leaning with tangled electrical wires. Abandoned buildings are everywhere. Some concrete structures survived, some were blown apart or blown over. The thick concrete roads got badly damaged and are being repaired. The metal roof structure on a large factory or warehouse looks like a tangle of spaghetti. (Would love to have a good photo of that roof to show how almost nothing can withstand the direct hit of a hurricane.)

While it is true that almost nothing can withstand a direct hit of a hurricane, the amount of damage incurred and the number of lives lost can be greatly reduced with earthbag construction as we’ve explained in numerous blog posts such as this: Open Source Disaster Resistant Earthbag Homes. Philippine architects understand this and are starting to build large scale earthbag projects as I’ll explain in an upcoming story.

Image source: Leyte Samar Daily News

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