From fear, to preparation
“Not another Haiyan,” was my first thought when I learned about a potential super typhoon hitting our region again and including our dear Tacloban in its path.
The Haiyan nightmare is something I couldn’t imagine my family, the people in Tacloban or the rest of the Philippines experiencing again, only a year after one of the strongest storms on record devastated us.
Even its name – Hagupit (a Filipino term which means ‘lash’)- evoked fear in us.
It didn’t help that initially there were a lot of reports that Hagupit would be stronger than Haiyan. It brought back painful memories of the trauma of Haiyan.
We decided to be prepared. Two days before its expected landfall, our small family of four (with one 11- year-old kid) worked like a team.
My mother meticulously packed our things and clothes in plastic bags. We anticipated electricity being cut off, so my brother prepared emergency light by preparing a bulb which he would connect to a car battery.
And then there were the essential and practical things. Last year, our supply of rice was swept away by the floods. Then, we just placed our staple in plastic bags. This time, we put rice in bottles for better protection. In time of possible disaster – and characteristically Filipino – our family can’t survive without rice so we made sure to secure supplies of it!
Then we stocked up on food items and other supplies.
During Haiyan, clean and safe water became scarce. So this time we put water in bottles and placed them inside the bathroom – the safest place in the house they say in time of disasters- and locked the room so in case of floods, our drinking water would be safe.
We tied our roofs. We secured our important documents. We made sure to stay in the house during the storm. We did both small and big adjustments this time all to be better prepared for Hagupit.
Then Hagupit came. We felt it from Saturday night to Sunday early morning. The winds were strong but not comparable to the ferocity of Haiyan. There were rains but not anywhere near as heavy as last year’s biggest storm. There were some small floods in Tacloban, but to our greatest relief, as correctly advised by concerned government agencies, there were no storm surges.
As predicted, power shut down. But our emergency light worked, and gave us a good measure of ease. Tacloban appeared like a deserted city days before, during and right after Hagupit. There were hardly any people on the streets. Most establishments were closed. Families preferred to stay home or in evacuation centers.
Tacloban was prepared. I am so happy and proud of my hometown. I was supposed to be on leave on the first work week after Hagupit, but I decided to report for work to contribute to our efforts to monitor, collect information and respond to the most affected areas in our neighboring region in Samar.