CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
10 Nov 2013
In the aftermath of the devastation of Tacloban City brought about by supertyphoon YOLANDA (international name : Haiyan), the Philippine Daily Inquirer online edition today reported Philippine Department of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla (who hails from Palo, Leyte, one of the worst-hit towns) as saying, the people of Leyte heeded the warnings of the government to evacuate and prepare for the weather disturbance, but “this typhoon was just too strong.”
The images from Youtube on the preparations made for this supertyphoon appeared adequate, but eventually they were no match for the speed of Yolanda’s sustained winds of 310 kph (195mph) with gusts reaching up to 380kph (235mph) according to the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Center as mentioned in the QUARTZ website, a popular science and technology news site (http://qz.com/144734/super-typhoon-haiyan-one-of-the-strongest-storms-ever-seen-is-about-to-hit-the-philippines/).
The level of preparation that we should be doing after this event needs to go up several notches higher, similar to what had happened to Fudai, Japan, a town in northeast of Tokyo, Japan, which largely escaped the devastation of the tsunami from the March 2011 earthquake, because its mayor constructed a 51-foot high set of floodgates spanning the town’s mountainsides.
As reported in Disaster-wise (http://disaster-wise.blogspot.com/2011/10/mayor-of-fudai-man-plan-and-wave.html) blog, the mayor, Kotoku Wamura, pushed ahead with the construction of the US$30million floodgates in 1972 and continued with it over twelve years, amid opposition from the community itself.
There were also barriers and floodgates set up in other towns, but Fudai’s was the tallest. The Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1386978/The-Japanese-mayor-laughed-building-huge-sea-wall–village-left-untouched-tsunami.html) of UK mentioned another nearby town, Taro, that set up a double-barreled 33-foot tall seawall, but the town was also hit by the tsunami.
Nitpickers may say, what does this anti-tsunami seawall have to do with the preparations for another supertyphoon that, God forbid, should not come again? This is about exceeding one’s estimates of the worst disaster that can hit and preparing ahead for such an eventuality and doggedly, for it.
There is a word for this, it is called climate change adaptation, a long-term effort of preparation and adjustment to anticipate what kinds of impacts from climate change may happen, and with the lessons of Fudai mayor Kotoku Wamura, going beyond what human foresight may provide as adequate. This is like expecting the worst that can happen and preparing long and hard for it.
Are the Filipinos and its leaders up to this challenge? Your answer, dear reader, laced with expletives, is the same as mine.