Lessons from a Disaster: UP RI launches Yolanda Photo E-book for 10th Year Commemoration

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda (int. Name Haiyan). Typhoon Yolanda is one of the most powerful typhoons in history with record winds and storm surges. It ravaged the Philippines in November 2013, leaving behind a trail of destruction and loss. Storm surges brought upon by the typhoon were at unanticipated heights. Specific warnings of storm surges were issued by the Joint Research Center (JRC) and then later by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) days before landfall, which was then communicated by the country’s president on prime-time television. Despite this, local government units failed to evacuate their constituents in a timely manner stating that they have lived through destructive events in the past. Official hazard maps failed to consider the severity of the impact caused by a typhoon of such strength which clearly highlights the need for better preparation and development of probabilistic hazard maps to anticipate scenarios that could happen in the future. A decade has passed since the disaster, prompting introspection: have we truly absorbed the lessons imparted by the impact of Typhoon Yolanda?  

The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute has produced a photo e-book that compiles insights from various sources casting light upon the shortcomings and revelations stemming from the disaster. This e-book functions as a collage of poignant narratives on resilience and vulnerability while capturing the collective voices and experiences in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda.  

The storm surges triggered by Haiyan surpassed expectations, inundating inland areas by 2 kilometers. Two days prior to landfall, specific warnings were issued detailing surges projected to reach 5.5 meters. However, the inadequacy of these warnings became apparent in the face of the storm’s unpredictable effects. The inherent variability of coastal landscapes rendered the estimation of inundation extents solely based on surge heights an impractical endeavor. 

Exploring the contents of the photo e-book, the prevalent absence of readiness is apparent and exemplified by the common Filipino’s lack of familiarity with the term ‘storm surge. The compilation functions not solely as a remembrance of historical events but also as a guiding instrument steering toward a future strengthened against the unpredictability of nature. Concentrating on the often-underestimated threat posed by storm surges, the compilation delves into the complexities of the disaster’s repercussions.  

This stark realization underscores the critical need for a nuanced approach to disaster preparedness, one that encompasses not only accurate forecasts but also a comprehensive understanding of local topography and climate change to effectively mitigate the impact of such formidable natural events. This serves as a solemn reminder of the necessity for improvement in strategies for disaster preparedness, a sentiment echoed through words and reflections. 

Scan the QR code below to preview the photo e-book on mobile devices.