In a year filled with unfortunate events, Typhoon Goni strikes and batters the Philippines. Though the third world country is no stranger to typhoons and natural disasters, this catastrophic typhoon is considered one of the years’ most powerful storms. Thus, the Philippines is now another country paying the price for humanity’s ignorance of climate change problems.
The damage so far
Though the storm has barrelled into the eastern Philippine on November 1, 2020, officials are still accessing the damages.“There are so many people who are really in vulnerable areas,” Ricardo Jalad, who heads the government’s disaster response agency, said on Sunday. “We’re expecting major damage.”
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported that Super Typhoon Goni made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 310 kilometers (195 miles) per hour near its center. However, it weakened later in the day, when it traversed the main island of Luzon.
Furthermore, according to the Relief organizations, Catanduanes Island, where the storm initially made landfall, suffered the destruction of almost 90 percent of its buildings. The storm wrecked tens of thousands of homes on the island while displacing more than 300,000 people. Additionally, it caused the death of at least 20 people so far. The country is also suffering from a lack of access to electricity, water, as well as the cellular network since November 2, according to Philippine Red Cross.
Mark Timbal of the Philippines’ national disaster agency stated that almost 19 million lives were affected drastically by the typhoon. “This 19 million already includes the populations in danger zones for landslides, flooding, storm surges, and even a lava flow,” he added.
Living in fear
Philippine’s geography has blessed the country with a tropical and maritime climate, however, it also made the country more vulnerable to natural disasters. Only last month, the country was already suffering from Typhoon Molave, which caused the death of 22 people. On average, the country experiences 20 storms and typhoons per year. However, they are often less harmful. The last typhoons to approach the region at this strength were Super Typhoon Meranti in 2016 and Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
“We fear the wrath of the typhoon,” said Echague, a parent with two children, who fled with her parents and siblings. They had to carry with them a portable stove, tinned meat, instant noodles, blankets, along with any valuables; lest they get lost.
“Each time we’re hit by a typhoon our house gets damaged, since it’s made of wood and galvanized iron roofing,” she said.
A typhoon during the pandemic
Of course, the pandemic has also had a hand in worsening the situation. According to the disaster response agency, almost 1,000 COVID-19 patients had to be moved to hospitals and hotels from tent quarantine and treatment centers in the capital. With more than 380,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, keeping suitable health measures while fleeing for safety will prove to be almost impossible.
Goni’s Next stop
Though weakened to a tropical storm, officials still expect Goni to make landfall in central Vietnam this week. This storm will be the sixth tropical storm to hit Vietnam since the beginning of October. Thus, Vietnam is still suffering from recent typhoon Molave, which was one of the most powerful storms to hit the country in decades.
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