Emergency preparedness saves Philippines from catastrophic loss

World Today

Typhoon evacuees walk back home with their bed sheets and pillows after spending two nights in evacuation center Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014 at suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. A storm that began as a frighteningly powerful typhoon started to blow away from the Philippines Tuesday, after leaving at least 21 people dead and forcing more than a million into shelters. Typhoon Hagupit dissipated into a tropical depression after crossing Lubang Island, 135 kilometers (84 miles) southwest of Manila, and was blowing into the South China Sea, forecasters said. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Typhoon Hagupit turned out to be far less damaging to the Philippines than last year’s Typhoon Haiyan. The death toll was comparatively low, although some remote villages had yet to be reached. CCTV America’s Barnaby Lo reported this story from Manila, investigating what the country had done differently to prevent major loss from the storm.

Emergency preparedness saves Philippines from catastrophic loss

Typhoon Hagupit turned out to be far less damaging to the Philippines than last year's Typhoon Haiyan. The death toll has remained low, although some remote villages have yet to be reached. CCTV America's Barnaby Lo was in Manila, investigating what the country has done differently to prevent disaster.

The largest evacuations ever seen in peacetime was how one United Nations official described it. Over a million Filipinos left their homes for safety last weekend, as then super-Typhoon Hagupit threatened to hit the very same region that suffered most of Typhoon Haiyan’s fury a year before.

Haiyan was the strongest storm on record to make landfall. It killed more than 6,300, with many more still missing, as it triggered tsunami-like storm surges that washed away entire towns and villages. Even as Hagupit continued to lose strength as it swept across the Philippines, those in the typhoon’s path didn’t take chances. An entire stretch along Manila Bay is usually filled with small shops, tourists, bystanders, and the homeless. But since Hagupit was bringing with it the threat of a storm surge, the local government made sure the area was empty hours before the storm passed.

“It was so critical that people were moved from those vulnerable, hazard-prone areas to safe evacuation centers,” Alison Kent, Oxfam humanitarian policy advisor, said. “And that’s just a massive amount of organization from the government, from non-profit partners and from the communities themselves so it’s been a very positive experience to see that preparedness happen.”

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