Top 5 Most Unforgettable Typhoons in Philippine History: A Cry of Nature
“There is room for all, and not only when disaster strikes.”
Indeed, the news of Typhoon Sendong’s onslaught reached us like a bolt from the blue. We were just as shocked as those who perished, the night when Sendong showed his deadly fangs to its innocent victims. And as we welcome 2012 with bittersweet memories, it is imperative for us to learn and look back to those indelible scars left by Sendong and other typhoons which literally took the whole nation by storm. History repeats itself and there’s no other way to be proactive but to learn from our own mistakes. We are living in a constantly changing times and underneath these drastic transitions, Mother Nature has been struggling to make her voice be heard. For this reason, let us have a rundown of the 5 most unforgettable typhoons in Philippine history, revealing meticulously all the damages, casualties, and the impact these typhoons have made to the Filipino people and their willingness to step up and take care of the nature.
#5. Typhoon Ondoy.
Ondoy, with an international name of “Ketsana” is probably one of the most, or should I say, THE most unforgettable typhoon to ever struck Metro Manila and nearby provinces in recent years. Each of us has a special story to tell on how Ondoy had changed our lives and perspective during that fateful night of September 25, 2009. From fancy cars destroyed by rampaging mud waters to people braving the formidable neck-level floodwaters, from ordinary people almost freezing to death to famous celebrities trapped in their abode, “Ondoy” was one of the greatest equalizers to ever reach our consciousness in times of a great disaster. At least 12 areas in Luzon were placed under Storm Signal No. 2 as Ondoy made landfall near the boundary of Aurora and Quezon provinces. And with 464 fatalities, “Ondoy” reminded us that clogged drain-ways, improper waste management, and a total lack of concern for Mother Nature could take its toll to our environment in ways we had never imagined before.
#4. Typhoon Sendong.
The most recent one among the five, Sendong or “Washi” should not be underestimated by any means. It amounted to P999,946,415.00 as the total damage for infrastructure, agriculture and school buildings. It caused numbers of 1,002 dead and 1,603 injured as reported Wednesday by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The typhoon Sendong is now considered as the deadliest typhoon in 12 years in the Philippine history due the highest number of casualties and damages. Furthermore, for the first time since Tropical Storm “Sendong” struck on Dec. 16, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) admitted that the missing may be more than the 49 reported to President Aquino on his trip to the disaster zone on Tuesday-four days after the storm struck. The fear is that the death toll may top 3,000. What a way to end 2011!
#3. Typhoon Reming.
Who will ever forget those victims buried alive by rubbles and volcanic sands from Mayon? They were the unlucky souls that gave the canny Typhoon Reming (with international code name: Durian) a face we will never forget. The tropical storm was earlier forecasted to hit Metro Manila and northern Luzon on Friday but it changed directions instead. The website typhoon2000.com gave a detailed summary of how Reming brought its paralyzing effects to affected areas such as Bicol, Calabarzon, Marinduque, and Mindoro:
Legazpi City and the rest of Albay which was under its intense Southern Eyewall, bore the brunt of the typhoon as large buildings lost their roofs while concrete and steel structures crumpled and bowed down everywhere. REMING came ashore the town of Tiwi in Albay. Everywhere, houses were literally blown off to pieces and then, the abrupt calm of the passing eye. But above Mayon Volcano, torrential rains continued and the saturated volcanic debris finally gave way. With the howling winds full of deadly debris, the raging lahars that thundered down the volcano’s slopes gave people no time, or choice to escape. Those who clambered above their roofs as mudflows raged on were killed or critically injured by the flying debris. It left most of Albay and southern Catanduanes helpless and dying.
With power and communication lines down, it took a day for Filipinos to see the full-picture of REMING’s aftermath. Aerial surveys of Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes showed complete devastation. Schools, government structures, hospitals, banks and many important buildings were destroyed. At the foot of Mayon Volcano, whole families, villages and barangays were buried in volcanic debris giving up most of the fatalities. Officials estimated 1,200 dead and missing reminding them of Mayon’s famous 1814 eruption.
#2. Typhoon Nitang.
News about coffin shortage in CDO during the Sendong aftermath brought me back to August, 1984 when Typhoon Nitang (Ike) bestowed the same curse to the island of Surigao, where 1, 492 innocent victims died. “Nitang” was the deadliest typhoon of the 1984 Pacific typhoon season and crossed the Philippines in September. According to reports, the typhoon was recorded with a 220 km/h gust and an estimated 185 km/h msw in Surigao on September 2 and is one of the intense tropical cyclones and devastating and deadliest to hit the RP.
Ike was one of the deadliest typhoons in Philippine history. Its heavy rainfall and winds killed 1,492 people. Between 200,000 and 480,000 people were left homeless in the wake of the storm. In Surigao del Norte, at least 27 towns were completely destroyed by the typhoon, leaving at least 304 dead. Some towns were washed away after Lake Mainit overflowed its banks, killing hundreds of people caught in the floodwaters. Nearly 100,000 people were left homeless in Cebu and only one of the islands 21 radio stations was able to broadcast several days after the storm. About 70 percent of Surigao City was destroyed by Ike. In all, roughly 1.6 million people were affected in the country and 1,856 were injured. A total of 108,219 homes were destroyed and 142,653 others were damaged. However, President Ferdinand Marcos declared a state of calamity after Nitang’s onslaught. Six years later, Supertyphoon Ruping wreaked havoc in the Visayas in November 1990. (wikipedia.org)
#1. Typhoon Uring/Oreng (The Ormoc Tragedy of 1991).
Twenty years ago, the whole nation was dumbfounded after the most deadliest typhoon, which produced an unprecedented flash flood ever recorded in history, claimed the lives of almost 8,000 victims. It’s one dark chapter in our history that still haunts us today; a tragedy that we all hope should have never happened and could have never happened had all the victims saw it coming their ways. The intricate pandemonium that was caused by Oreng is a nightmare that none of us can ever be prepared for.
URING was a weak tropical storm that moved quickly through Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Negros. But because of the heavy precipitation, rivers swelled and landslides came down in a deluge at the upper areas of Ormoc City in Leyte.
On the morning of November 5, 1991, water from a heavy rainfall roared down from the surrounding hills carrying logs and uprooted trees, and engulfed Isla Verde and much of Ormoc. Isla Verde used to be a crowded community of about 2,500 before the great Ormoc flood almost completely wiped it out. According to the remaining residents of Isla Verde, only about 200 people here survived.
The city government counted 4,875 dead in Ormoc, but according to Mayor Victoria Locsin, remains of bodies were still found after the official count. As one of the country’s worst natural disasters, the tragedy in Ormoc has been invoked across the nation as a warning to other ecologically devastated communities. (pcij.org)
We have all witnessed how Nature does its bitter revenge to people over the years but most of us just consider these tragedies as a simple neutralizer, a way to balance life and death, and that its something way out of our control. But let us not forget the principle of stewardship, the fact that God has entrusted us all our natural resources, and that its up to our own volition if we are going to use or abuse it, succeed or blunder in using our riches into ways that should be more constructive and not destructive.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that we are all rooting for a nationwide total log ban because this policy will be a bane of our existence in the long run. Why? Dr. Rex Victor Cruz, dean of the UP College of Forestry and Natural Resources in Los Banos and part of the UN Working Group on Climate Change team that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize answered it himself. He said illegal loggers and subsistence farmers will swarm the forests and indiscriminately cut trees the very minute concessionaires abandon the areas they once protected as a result of the logging ban. Cruz was reacting to Executive Order No. 23 issued by President Aquino practically declaring a logging ban all over the country. He issued the ban after visiting provinces hit recently by floods and landslides. Cruz said a total logging ban is not the solution to flooding and landslides. Forests do not necessarily prevent floods and landslides, according to Cruz, since they only have a limited influence on flooding. Instead, the main factors that influence flooding are the geomorphology of the area and the amount of rainfall.
We have to exhaust all means to protect our nature and assist the government in identifying all high-risk areas to mobilize all our efforts in eradicating complacency and dependency amongst affected communities. This is not the best time to stay on our comfort zones and wait for another “Oreng” to swallow us whole, for another “Ondoy” to stifle all dreams we have for ourselves and family, or for another “Sendong” to ravage virtually everything we have. This is a time to be proactive and change all possible outcomes before those outcomes can even change us in a very bad way.
“There is room for all, and not only when disaster strikes.”
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