Typhoon Haiyan

Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on 8th November 2013 with the force of a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, at a speed of 250kmh^-1. It came with a 5m storm surge and up to 290 mm of rainfall in just 12 hours. Haiyan was likely known as Yolanda. Fewer than 20 other hurricanes had reached the same strength.

Between 5 and 10 typhoons hit the Philippines every day, leading to, within normal bounds, 2% of GDP lost annually.

Top Five Natural Disasters, 2004-2012 in the Philippines Date Number Kiled
Typhoon Bopha Dec 2012 1,901
Typhoon Winnie Nov 2004 1,619
Typhoon Washi Dec 2011 1,439
Typhoon Durian Nov 2006 1,399
Leyte landslide Feb 2006 1,126

Bopha had a windspeed of 280kmh^-1 and hit the island of Mindanao. It caused over US$1 billion of damage. Yet no one remembers Bopha. This reflects how the richest countries tend to ignore the issues that prevent development in other countries once the immediate issue appears to be dealt with.

Many people made the link between Haiyan and climate change:

“I’ll leave the scientists to speak for themselves about the link between severe weather events and climate change. The evidence seems to me to be growing.”- David Cameron

Rising sea levels from melting ice caps mean that areas which are low lying or coastal are at more risk of damage from storm surges and other sea based hazards linked with the hurricane. An IPCC AR5 report judged that there would be no real increase in the number of hurricanes but the intensity of them would rise.

Date Development of Haiyan
2 Nov An area of low pressure developed South East of Micronesia
3 Nov Haiyan started to move westward, turning into a tropical depression
5 Nov Classified as a typhoon
6 Nov Joint Typhoon Warning Centre classified it as a category 5 storm
7 Nov Haiyan intensified to winds up to 314kmh^-1. Made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
8 Nov Five more landfalls within the Philippines. Passed into the South China Sea
10 Nov Turned NW and made landfall in Vietnam as a category 1 typhoon
11 Nov Weakened to a tropical depression

Causes

To form, hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones (the same thing by different names depending upon location), need warm deep water (around 27°C for 70m) and sufficient rotatory power from the Coriolis effect; the coriolis limitation means that tropical storms can rarely be formed outside of about 5-20° away from the equator. Tropical storms form around an area of low pressure- Haiyan’s sea surface pressure was as low as 895mb- where air starts to rush in in a spiralling effect.

The air then starts to rise with warm water evaporating off the warm sea, forming clouds. The clouds then start to rise. The accumulation of air at the top creates a higher section of high air pressure. Air is then blasted out at immense speeds, creating the clouds visible on satellite images.

Hurricanes maintain their full force when they are over warm water with no real wind sheer (high up winds which move the top layer of cloud away from the hurricane). In the Philippines, most of the land is made of small islands with larger sections of warm water between them, meaning that the hurricane never gets far away from warm water when over the Philippines, and thus don’t really weaken around the country.

Across the Philippines, Haiyan made 6 separate land falls. It travelled very quickly, meaning that the water in front of it was not stirred up. Stirred up water will often have cold water near the surface, but the water in front of Haiyan did not. This meant that the water entering the typhoon was very warm, so when it rose it released masses of latent heat energy, giving the typhoon enormous power.

The islands of Leyte and Cebu’s configuration channeled the storm in a particular way, funneling it straight towards the city of Tacloban; the decreasing ocean depth also increased the intensity of the storm surge.

Lowest Pressure 895 mb
Sustained wind speed 314 kmh^-1
Radius of hurricane-force winds 85 km
Peak Strength Category 5
Strength at Landfall Category 5, 314 kmh^-1
Storm Surge Height 15 m
Rainfall 400mm

There had also been an earthquake (at 7.2 on the Richter scale) recently beforehand, in October 2013, which had an impact on how effective any aid work could be.

Impacts

Haiyan affected 11 million people.

  • 6,021 were killed, although the initial estimate was 10,000
  • 10,000s of people were made homeless, and further 10,000s lost their main sources of income.
  • The Tacloban City Convention Center was being used as an evacuation centre, but became a death trap as water poured into it.
  • A 5.2 m storm surge destroyed Tacloban airport’s terminal building.
  • Many water vessels were washed ashore; in some areas 95% of fishing equipment and boats were destroyed.
  • The phone network was lost, making it hard to establish contact between victims, the authorities, and the victims’ families.
  • 1,000s of trees were destroyed; 33 million coconut palms were destroyed, destroying 15 million tons of timber.
  • Roads were undamaged, but huge piles of debris still made transportation of aid workers and supplies very slow.

The worst affected area, the Eastern Vasayas were flooded up to 1km inland.

There was no clean water, electricity or food for survivors. There was also no available fuel for vehicles, many of which were also upturned.

 

Response

Preparedness

The Philippines has many low scale hurricanes on a regular basis; thus, many people had a false sense of safety going into the disaster because they had been desensitized to the danger of it.

The government frequently produces risk maps and provides evacuation shelters for its citizens.

On November 6th, PAGASA (Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) issues a low level Public Storm Warning, but had raised this to the highest level it could within 24 hours.

The military deployed planes and helicopters in advance to areas likely t be worst-hit. Community buildings were designated as storm shelters, although there was concern that they may not resist the high wind force. Some islands, such as Tulang Diyot, were completely evacuated of its 1,000 residents, due to years of education and community preparedness.

The local mayor of Tulang Diyot won an award in 2011 for community work in the “Purok system”, where community members agree to deposit their own money into a fund for post-disaster assistance rather than waiting for government aid.

Short Term

When Haiyan made land fall, the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated, allowing relief agencies to have satellite data from space agencies to help in relief and recovery after a disaster.

Journalists arrived very quickly to the area, largely consisting of storm chasers who arrived before the storm to help contribute to better models for use in predicting the effects and severity of future disasters.

The first actual aid work was done by survivors who searched the ruins for bodies and other survivors. The government was criticised for a very slow response, as locals turned to looting to acquire enough food for themselves. The UK and USofA sent supplies of diggers, and other moving equipment to help the distribution of aid. Aid supplies were often ambushed and looted. Mass graves were dug to contain the bodies before disease could break out.

Pledges of aid were made quickly but the actual carrying out of the aid schemes was severely delayed, partly because of the isolated nature of the effected islands, and the damage done to infrastructural and transport links.

Street sellers had started to set up stands again a week after the event. Fishermen salvaged water proof items to turn into impromptu boats, such as tree trunks and fridges. Broadband antennae were constructed and Micromappers.com managed to map out the worst hit areas to send workers into where they were most needed.

Long Term

Water and sanitation services were set up fairly soon afterwards. Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representing 3,000 small businesses set up a permanent disaster committee. A month after the event, 100,000 people were still in evacuation centres, with 4 million in temporary homes. 324,00 households were given materials for emergency shelters, and began building 30,000 higher standard homes.

If material distribution had been slower, many people would have started to just rebuild with what they had, leading to more unsafe structures than what was there before the event.

Representatives of national and local governmental departments started administering aid directly, speeding up distribution and reducing bureaucracy. 50,000 homes in affected areas were given US$50 in addition to emergency supplies, overseen by the Philippines Red Cross.

People started to be paid for clearing up the mess, allowing them structure back into their lives while also helping the aid work.

There were no outbreaks of diseases, despite the large risk and the lack of initial sanitation.

More than 20% of government spending in the Philippines is on debt repayment. This crippling cost keeps much of the population in poverty and at risk of another disaster.

Advertisements

Philippines mudslide 2006

On 17th February 2006, a mudslide hit the village of Guinsagon in southern Leyte province in the Philippines. The slide covered 9km^2, was 3km wide and in places 30m thick. Half a mountain collapsed on the single village. .

Causes

The main cause of the mudslide was a La Ninya event in the Western Pacific. 200cm of rainfall fell in 10 days, weakening the slope strength. Slopes in the region are mostly very steep and mass movement and mudslides occur frequently.

Widespread deforestation during the past 70 years have also increased slope instability. The slide was ultimately triggered by a small local earthquake of magnitude 2.6Mw.

Exposure in that area of the Philippines is high. In 1991, 5,000 people were killed when typhoons triggered landslides, and a similar event in 2003 killed 133 people. Mudslides and landslides are a constant threat due to:

  • heavy and prolonged rainfall from typhoons
  • Steep hillsides largely built of weathered volcanic rock
  • Extensive faulting and earthquake activity

Many villages are located at the base of steep slopes in the direct path of mudslides, and rural populations are high. The people are very poor and have high population growth. Southern Leyte is one of the poorest areas of the Philippines. Between 1995 and 2000 the population grew by +2.73%, placing pressure on environmental resources.

Logging bans have not been enforced by the government, largely due to political corruption. Even where sustainable logging has been practiced, in many places trees with shallow roots have replaced trees with deep roots, and thus made the slopes far less stable.

Impacts

Survivors described how a “wall of mud” descended on the village, killing over 1,000 people, including 246 children at a primary school. Almost every one of the 300 homes was destroyed. The slide killed thousands of livestock and buried the farmland; around 16,000 people were affected.

Response

Hazard mitigation maps have been made of Southern Leyte, but are not very detailed, so that villages that will be effected by mudslides cannot be identified. Following heavy rains and the deaths of 20 people in a nearby village, warnings were issued between the 4th and 17th of February, and several hillside villages were evacuated. However, many people chose not to leave.

Evacuation centres were set up around St Bernard, the capital of the region. Emergency aid in these centres provided safe drinking water, sanitation and health services. The region is very poor, however, so they cannot afford communications, which slowed down response times. Two hundred rescue workers were brought into the site. Unlike earthquakes, mass movements have few survivors.

International aid was provided by the Red Cross and Red Cresent, and their appeal raised US$1.6 million.

The government has commissioned a US$1.5 million geohazards survey and mapping of Leyte to try to prevent future similar disasters.

Refugees and Italian Earthquakes

The earthquake struck on 24th August, 2016 at 3:36. It scored magnitude 6.2, with an epicentre close to Accumoli, with a depth of only 4km. 298 people were killed. There have been at least 2500 aftershocks, some of which, along with the initial quake, have been felt throughout most of Italy.

The Apennines are a very seismically active area, with many small faultlines. The faults involved recently in quakes have been SW-dipping faults.

Tourism to the rural area swelled the number of people around the area who could be affected by the earthquake. As such, 3 Brits and 11 Romanian people were killed by the earthquake.

At least 365 people had to be hospitalised, though many others had more minor injuries. 238 people were pulled out of rubble. A town near the epicentre, Amatrice, according to its mayor “is not here anymore”. Many cultural heritage sites have been lost- to the extent that structural tests were done on the Coliseum, on the other side of the country, 100km away. Dozens of people were killed in Rome, despite the distance from the epicentre.

Approximately 2,100 people went to emergency camps. 4,400 were involved in search and rescue with 70 teams with rescue dogs.

Italy has well developed emergency services which mobilised 6,600 rescue people overall. Rescue workers asked locals to turn off wifi passwords to help teams (and those needing assistance!) to communicate more easily.

A man trying to loot an empty home was arrested at one point.

A state funeral was held with coffins for 38 victims from Amatrice, including 2 children. The funeral was meant to be held in Reiti, 35 miles away, but local people protested, saying it had to be held locally, putting additional immediate strain onto builders and organisers, who were already struggling with organising basic needs. Another was held in the Marche region, nearby.

The Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has pledged 50 million euros in funds for rebuilding.

Refugees

In Pescara del Tronto, five asylum seekers helped out. Amadou Jallow from Gambia was one of them, and he said they had “to give back to Italian people for the good things that they have done for us”.

35 refugees and asylum seekers in Ascoli Peceno were shocked by the earthquake but started clearing rubble away quickly. A group of 70 refugees pooled their 2 euros a day allowance and made a donation of nearly 200 euros to earthquake victims- the footage they saw reminded them of the places they had fled from.

Italy generally has a very xenophobic attitude towards those of Muslim heritage- to the extent that in some schools refugee children are made to use different bathrooms to the others, due to “hygiene concerns” despite the children being perfectly healthy. Some of the intolerance is understandable:

  •  Since 2014, 400,000 refugees have arrived in Italy
  • Not all of them have enough housing
  • Not all can access schooling
  • Some politicians said the funding spent on refugees should have been spent on helping refugee victims instead.
  • Some victims think it better to be living in a migrant centre than the earthquake victim camps.
  • The emotional strain of the earthquake is going to put people on edge about any issues they encounter.

Any help the refugees gave was entirely from them understanding how stressful the situation was and genuinely wanting to help people in need; no one was trusting them enough to think they’d do anything to help.

Most don’t care about the prejudices- they’re grateful to live somewhere safe at last, and want to give back to their new communities. Some other examples of refugee community work:

  • Syrian teenagers in Seattle volunteering to help the homeless with basic necessities
  • A Syrian refugee setting up meal stations to give homeless people food in Berlin
  • Another Syrian refugee mobilising the refugee community to help in flooding in the British town they are living in.

Earthquake Proofing Controversy

Rieti was meant to have rebuilt many of its buildings after an earthquake in 1974 to improve earthquake resistance; however, an entire family was killed that sheltered within a church during the movement. A primary school in Amatrice was levelled- after 700,000 euros were spent in 2013 on “renovating” it; tests of the school’s permits shows that anti-seismic measures were faked, possibly by the mafia.

The Amatrice bell tower had been recently restored before the quake, but fell, and crushed a family of four.

 

Haiti Earthquake- Causes of Vulnerability

The temperature had been 28 degrees celsius average, with 137cm of rainfall average each year. This climate means that soil is often damp and therefore prone to moving easily.

The Caribbean plate moved east while the North American plate moved west. A large movement in the north section of the Caribbean plate occurred, causing the earthquake. Rocks break when the tension is released, which is what then causes the damage.

The earthquake was shallow, and the plates hadn’t shifted for years. The plate boundary ran through the capital, Port au Prince.

The epicenter was very close to Port au Prince, while the focus was not far underground.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, so was ill equiped for this situation. Building quality was awful- and they lacked infrastructure. They had poor architecture, and many buildings were made of low quality concrete blocks.Roo

Roofs easily collapsed, trapping people underneath. Many houses were on slopes, causing slips.

Haiti Earthquake- Short Term Impacts

The earthquake happened on the 12th of June 2010.

  • 1/3 of the buildings collapsed it the capital.
  • 200,000 people died.
  • 1/4 of a million people injured.
  • 1.3 million homeless
  • 300,000 buildings collapsed
  • Water, communications and electricity networks were all damaged
  • Little food or water available.
  • A million people forced to sleep in the streets
  • Billions of dollars worth of damage caused

Haiti Earthquake – Long Term Impacts

Due to knowledge that future quakes are likely to occur, various measures have had to be put into places.

Earthquake simulations are run to see the panic which would occur in the real situation. People can practice organising emergency services for the situation. They are also to see how children react. Lots of screaming and running around.

The emergency services are being trained to act as best they can, by staying calm instead of running around, for instance.

The earthquake has had the greatest effect on the poor long term.

Even before the earthquake, there were large inequalities. The earthquake worsened this.

Half of the population was below the poverty line; after the earthquake, this rose to 80%.

Haiti Earthquake- Long Term Management

Building resilience and Future capacity

Some people have had to spend 3 years in their camps. They had:

  • No money to build

NGOs helped the local people by:

  • Improving financial support for rebuilding
  • Improving infrastructure
  • Training stonemasons to make future settlements stronger
  • Building new settlements on outskirts

The relocated people would have had to still pay rent for housing had the refugee camps not been set up; the camps helped provide shelter for those who would not have been able to afford this in their current financial situation.

In the refugee camps, people had to travel to work. Often the fees of transport were so expensive that people could spend more money travelling to and fro between work and the camps than they would earn. So, many people had taken to just sleeping rough outside their offices during the week and only coming home at weekends.

There were toilets in the camps so there was one between every five families. One of the main aims of the new buildings was to remove this issue.

  • Have to travel to work
  • Spaced out buildings
  • No heavy tiles
  • Use local technology so homes can be fixed by local people.
  • Buildings were built with plenty of open spaces, so people can get away from falling buildings more quickly.
  • Buildings have only a few storeys, so there’s less to collapse in during future quakes, and also have timber frames, which are more flexible, so less likely to collapse in a future earthquake.
  • Lightweight structures, and only using light weight tiles means that if anything collapses in the future, it will be less damaging to anybody around.

 

 

Creditors died with the earthquake

  • Businesses have to be reset up again
  • Oxfam helped with this:
  • Financial security to support many businesses
  • Monthly allowances

Most food was imported.

Oxfam was trialing different techniques in Haiti to get good crop growth. Oxfam funded small rice mills to get a better price at the market for farmers. Unprocessed rice is worth far less, so by allowing the rice mills to be more available, farmers can get more profits, allowing rural areas to support themselves better in the aftermath. With more rice mills, it is overall cheaper to use them.

Profits from mills help pay for drainage channels which increase yield again. This is an overall positive multiplier effect.

Land reform is a necessary feature of the rebuilding. Before the earthquake, unclear laws on land ownership meant that when the earthquake hit, camps had to be built in poor sites as the owners could not be tracked down and asked permission to use any land closer to the capital. Most of the land is only claimed by a few people, and overall this makes it hard to make long term investments. Companies and investors want a guaranteed pay out, which they can’t get from the unclear laws as it was.