‘ Severe Tropical Storm (STS) Koppu (local name: Lando), which initially made landfall in the Aurora Province, Philippines 1:00am on 18 October 2015, has been changed from typhoon classification to a severe super typhoon storm (STS)’, stated the Philippine weather bureau. As of 20 October, Lando had maintained its strength as it moved in the Northeast direction of Louzon in the northern Philippines. Its estimated rainfall amount has remained from heavy to intense within the 600 km diameter of the storm center. This system was not only one of the most powerful, but the slowest moving storm on record, traveling at 4 km/hr.
Photo is courtesy of Save The Children.
In preparing for my assignment, I became well aware of the Philippine disaster risks. Typhoons, i.e. hurricanes in our world, earthquakes and mud slides are just a few of the regular occurrences here. Being a northern US girl, I had never experienced a mudslide or strong hurricane, only experiencing it’s rainy aftermath as it came inland. I’ve experienced all three here multiple times over.
During my Pulse assignment, I have travelled to areas where super typhoons struck and seen the devasting effects. I continue to be so amazed by the resilience and bravery of the Filipino people. Their faith and spirit are stronger than any Category Five Storm. My heart breaks for them and yet I am so inspired by each and every one of them.
This past week, I got to experience a super typhoon myself. While south of Lando’s storm center, the impact was still strong.
There was no power and the rains were the heaviest I’ve ever seen. It felt like strong hail as it hit you. Every drop hurts.
I was hunkered down with a few girlfriends. We made the most of it and had a good time despite the storm. Of course a loss of power makes it challenging but strength in numbers and beautiful landscapes helped.
Going outside as the initial wave passed, there were not one, but two rainbows visible.
Shortly after, the heavy rain and winds returned. The seas were wild a day later still as I boarded a ferry to return to Manilla.
Flooding was all around. Many roads had became rivers.
The devastation is palpable. Save the Children estimates that over 700,000 children in the Philippines have been affected by typhoon Lando as recent government data show upsurge in the number of affected people since the first landfall on Sunday. Classes in various cities and towns are still suspended, disrupting education of thousands of school-aged children. Save the Children’s Country Director, Ned Olney, stated, “We are extremely concerned with children and families who have lost everything, and without a roof over their heads. Although death toll stays low, let us not minimize the impact this storm has on people’s livelihoods.”
Thankfully this storm’s death toll is under one hundred. Every life lost is a tragedy, but in comparison to Haiyan where tens of thousands died, this very strong storm had minimal fatalities.
Last week, I had the privilege of travelling to Tacloban and Ormoc City. I saw first hand the lasting impact a super typhoon has. The two year anniversary of Haiyan is coming up on Nov 8th. My field work and the stories I heard were heartbreaking.
An evacuation center built to withstand a hurricane collapsed under the storm’s strength, killing those inside.
A hotel dubbed a safe haven unfortunately had all inside perish.
The community has amazing resilience. Despite having no power or electricity for five months, people worked to rebuild. They still are today.
One woman told me of a family’s two story home become submerged quickly from the storm surge. She and her mom were forced to grab onto wood from the home structure and hope to remain a float. Unfortunately the log began to sink, so her mom pushed her to a water tower. She managed to climb to safety and hold on. Unfortunately, in the process, she witnessed her mom drown. Countless others were also washed away.
A book was written to feature her and several other’s story. It is titled ‘Lunop’ and is a must read. A mass grave was estimated to hold over 10,000 unidentified victims of the super typhoon.
Please pray or think warm thoughts for the Filipino communities affected by Lando. A three to six month response will be generated to reach approximately 8,000 households in the worst affected locations. One hundred and sixty thousand children have been affected by the Super Typhoon. Some of them are currently living in evacuation centers, after being displaced by massive flooding in their respective communities. To date, a total of 15,600 families, or more than 70,000 individuals, are currently living in 376 evacuation centers.
Photo is courtesy of Save The Children.
In closing, perhaps some of you want to help. The easiest way is to answer Save’s appeal for monetary donations. The Filipino strength and resilience is far more powerful than any typhoon. However, the Filipino people need our support to recover. For many families, Lando has taken everything from them. You can donate today: http://bit.ly/landophappeal