Doing research on disaster resilience I shouldn’t have been surprised when pretty much right after I arrived in Guiuan, Eastern Samar we were warned of the first typhoon. It’s typhoon season you see. From 25 up to 50 typhoons are counted each year in the Philippines and so currently the typhoon Henry is drumming on my roof.
Henry has gained strength, with winds up to 120 to 150 kmh. However, he’s moving slower. As Henry is about 420kms from Borongan, which is just a few hours down the road (depending on the condition of the road) this means the rain continues.
I’m staying in a little annex built out of plywood, a roof made of GI sheets and more or less one solid wall. Luckily everything is dry and comfy. Still, the constant drumming of the rain is so loud it’s almost impossible to hear music.
From my newly gained experience, I’d like to suggest a new indicator for measuring storm strength: music! If you can still hear the the Kings of Convenience it’s really not that bad, next level is Della Reese and after that Devin Townsend. If you can’t hear Devin, you’ll still be fine but make sure your windows are closed and your rain boots ready.
Considering that I’m hear to research social resilience against natural hazards, in this case typhoons I was mind-blowingly ill prepared for the first typhoon – Glenda. Glenda passed Eastern Samar pretty much on the third day after I arrived in Guiuan.
When there was a power cut on the first day of Glenda, I had a computer with almost no battery left and an only half charged computer. Extra light sources: zero. Radio: NONE (capital letters because my focus is on participatory communication within local media), food: limited.
Luckily my neighbours gave me a bright little solar lamp and I had bought some crackers and mangos the day before. Still, what was I thinking? That typhoon season would take a break until I settled in? So much for risk perception.
Fortunately, typhoon Glenda wasn’t too bad in this area, my house was dry and I have a network of people watching out for me. Still, as soon as the winds settled I went to get some emergency supplies.
Now, as typhoon Henry rattles the roof, my headlamp has new batteries, all technical devices are always charged up and I have some tinned and packaged food that I could also eat without having to cook it.
So, remember, if you happen to move to an area where there’s natural hazards, especially a season for them – prepare and don’t forget that extra stack of books and toilet paper!