Wednesday, November 13, 2013

typhoon realities

A lot of folks died in the supertyphoon, but some suspect that the numbers are exaggerated.

My take? The numbers in the city of Tacloban are probably a couple thousand, but when they get around to counting the rural dead, the count will go back up.
here is the size of the typhoon.
we're at the edge in Luzon above Manila bay.

I keep getting emails from friends and relatives, who saw this in the news...
ironically, we didn't get much damage from the supertyphoon: Which was good because we were hit by a small (signal 3) typhoon three weeks ago that was ignored in the news. Guess they didn't notice I was off line for two weeks...but then, the internet often goes out, so it's not unusual for me to miss a day or two blogging.

What we went through here in Luzon will give you an idea of what folks are going through there: except much much worse. 

Our typhoon took off a lot of roofs, destroyed most of the almost ripe rice crop and veggie crops, destroyed a lot of fruit trees, destroyed most of the local Chicken farms (including ours) and, of course, made a lot of local folks flee to higher ground because of the flooding.

Now, that is a signal 3. The supertyphoon was a signal 4, much worse.

Many poorer folks have bamboo houses with thatch, or made of hard wood with tin roof on a concrete block base. Here, with the increased prosperity after land reform, most of these have been replaced by ugly concrete houses with tin roofs.

In a signal 4/supertyphoon it would collapse most of the non concrete houses, and even the "Concrete" ones would be roofless, windowless and destroyed inside. Our relatives in the Visayas report they have a couple of walls, but nothing else left in their well built house. And the Visayas is poorer than our area: so more poorly built houses in the rural areas that won't be there anymore.

That means no clothing, no stored food, no beds, and you have lost your computer and appliances.

As for food and water: Most city folks use city water. That requires a pump to a water tower, which might not work if all the electric lines are down because of tree damage. Luckily for us, our  city water stayed on: because our water pump decided to break down two days before our smaller typhoon hit.

But without a pump, it meant low pressure, so we had to carry buckets inside to wash, flush the toilet, do the laundry, clean the floors etc. You don't realize what a blessing is until you have to carry a bucket water 30 feet to your bathroom 20 times a day...and it was worse for our son, who lives in a second floor apartment. They did most of the washing downstairs.

But in rural areas, they just will get the water from streams etc. which are not too one wonders if the deaths from diarrhea etc. will be counted as storm related deaths

The real problem may be food: most folks eat locally, and don't have a lot of stored can goods. Veggies come into town daily from farms, and now the crop is lost and the roads are blocked.

 Rice is usually stored in small containers that might survive, but the backup rice is usually stored in a 50 pound sack, which would mean it got wet/destroyed.

Most people cook with LPG gas which might not be available, or you might find your stove destroyed in the floods. Lots of wood, but it's hard to cook with wet wood. Most people cook rice in a rice cooker, but no electricity.

As for electricity: middle class folks tend to have generators. But they won't work if they've been under water. So no electricity in the badly hit areas. And even if your generator works, there is no guarantee you'll find the gasoline/diesel to run them.

After our smaller typhoon, we had to go all over to find a gas station that had a generator so the gas pumps would work. (We only keep a large container of diesel, enough for 8 hours, on hand). And you also have to realize that many of the roads were blocked by fallen trees and debris. Motorcycles and "tricycles" got through okay, but in places that were badly hit, the cars and trucks and motorcycles would also have wet/muddy engines that won't work. So get a bicycle...

Luckily, our house is on a small "rise" and the water here was 4 inches below our garden...the generator is up another 20 inches because we keep it on wheels to take back and forth to the farm, where brownouts are more common.

As for cellphones: Everyone here has one, even the maid. Texting is cheap, and you can buy a "load" for fifty cents.

They also make good emergency "flashlights".

So the main reason that our neighbors came over was to recharge their cellphones, to keep in touch with relatives. within a day, local entrepeneurs put out "cellphone recharging for 25 pesos" (about 50 cents).

But in some of the supertyphoon areas, the cellphones didn't work, or got wet, or maybe the cellphone towers were destroyed. That will cause more problems because everyone here texts all the time.

but when our granddaughter got caught in rising waters during our typhoon, (while trying to sleep at a gas station because the bridge was flooded), she remembered to take her cellphone with her. She and the driver ended up on the roof of the gas station store, in the open air but safe, texting us all night.

Priorities, you know.

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