Typhoon Hagupit: From being afraid to being prepared

A girl helps her family prepare for Typhoon Hagupit

“Not another Haiyan, please!” This was my first thought when I learned about Typhoon Hagupit approaching our region, writes CARE Philippines staff member Rona Casil.

The Haiyan nightmare is something I could not imagine my family, the people in Tacloban or the rest of the Philippines experiencing again, only a year after one of the strongest storms on record devastated us.

At first, there were a lot of wild reports going around that Hagupit would be stronger than Haiyan. Even its name – Hagupit (a Filipino term which means ‘lash’) – evoked fear in us. Fortunately, we learned that Hagupit would not be as fierce as Haiyan.

CARE’s partner ACCORD informs people on evacuation practices and how to secure houses and belongings © ACCORD

CARE’s partner ACCORD informs people on evacuation practices and how to secure houses and belongings

So after we became afraid, we decided to be prepared. My mother meticulously packed our things and clothes in plastic bags. We anticipated electricity being cut off, so my brother prepared emergency light (a lightbulb running off a car battery).

Then we stocked up on food items. Two days before Hagupit, we bought enough supplies, same as almost everyone else in Tacloban.

Some reports called it ‘panic buying’ which hurt me as a survivor of Haiyan. It was not panic that drove us to buy enough provisions for the just-in-case-this-becomes-an-emergency days ahead, but the good sense to prepare. During Haiyan, food became a problem and we wouldn’t want to suffer the threat of hunger again this time.

An evacuation centre in Tacloban © ACCORD

An evacuation centre in Tacloban

During Haiyan, clean and safe water became scarce. So this time we put water in bottles and placed them inside the comfort room/toilet – the safest place in the house in time of disasters – and locked the room so, in case of floods, our drinking water would be safe.

We tied down our roof. We secured our important documents. We made sure to just stay in the house during the storm. All this to be better prepared for Hagupit.

Then Hagupit came. We felt it from Saturday night to Sunday early morning. The winds were strong but not comparable with the ferocity of Haiyan. There were rains but not anywhere near as heavy as last year’s biggest storm. There were some small floods in Tacloban, but to our relief, as correctly advised by government agencies, there were no storm surges.

As predicted, power shut down. But our emergency light worked, and we had food and other supplies, as we waited for the typhoon to pass.

Some parts of Tacloban were flooded after Typhoon Hagupit An evacuation centre in Tacloban © ACCORD

Some parts of Tacloban were flooded after Typhoon Hagupit

Tacloban appeared like a deserted city days before, during and right after Hagupit. There were hardly any people on the streets. Most establishments were closed. Families preferred to stay home or in evacuation centres.

Tacloban was prepared. I am so happy and proud of my hometown. We suffered so much from Haiyan. But we also learned so much from it, especially the value of preparedness and unity.

Photos provided by CARE’s partner organisation ACCORD.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.