The Destruction of Typhoon Odette in Negros Oriental

Typhoon Odette left thousands of families in Negros Oriental homeless without food and water
The Destruction of Typhoon Odette in Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental Meets Category 5 Typhoon Odette

Typhoon Odette left thousands of families in Negros Oriental asking for help. Last December 16, 2021, typhoon Odette with an international name of Rai brought the destructive power of a Category 5 hurricane in the Visayas region of the Philippines. This is only 8 years after Typhoon Yolanda. Though we might have assumed that after Yolanda government agencies have learnt from experiences. But apparently, one crucial mistake has recurred.

But just a short disclaimer, this is just my own personal opinion from the information I have when Typhoon Odette made its landfall in Visayas. And my own view of the situation may be different than others. I am also a survivor of Yolanda, thus how it feels like inside a Category 5 Typhoon. 

Lack if Warning

The same as Typhoon Yolanda, there was no clear warning of how powerful Typhoon Odette was. Before its landfall, many thought that it was only a Category 2 Typhoon, or there was an emphasis that it can strengthen from a Category 2 to 5. Even president Duterte did not reach mainstream media to warn people about the Typhoon. Which is also like Typhoon Yolanda, when the late Noynoy Aquino only gave a haste warning of the Typhoon a night before the onslaught. 

Ideally, the people should prepare for the worst whatever category a typhoon is. But this level of maturity is not available to the mindset of most people. And it is the government's responsibility to educate its citizens to prepare for calamities such as this. If there was a strong warning, the people could have prepared differently. They could have stacked more food, or even travel to other towns that were not in the direct path of the Typhoon. Clearly here, the Philippines lacked the technological resources for preemptive warning. I believe we don’t need a satellite to do this, we just have to ask allied nations with sophisticated equipment to sell us valuable information about the Typhoon. This would have been very helpful for those who were surprised by Odette’s power. 

Lack of Typhoon Proofed Evacuation Facilities

Then, Typhoon Odette exposed the weakness of its evacuation center structures against strong winds. There were videos surfacing online that people were hiding inside gymnasiums, schools and chapels, thinking that they would be safe. But these structures are not designed for strong winds. As made obvious by the videos seen online. And eventually, with Odette’s power the roofs collapsed. Though there is no way of completely fortifying a structure against the power of nature, at least there is a structure intently dedicated as an evacuation center. If the Philippine government has plans to actually build a typhoon proofed evacuation center, they should hasten it. Because we cannot predict when nature will bring another Category 5 to the country. 

Negros Oriental Needs Help

Two weeks after the Typhoon, you can still hear news that people lack drinking water in many areas of Negros Oriental. Most of the attention was given to Bohol, Siargao, and Cebu, since maybe they are the favorite child because of their contribution to tourism. But Negros Oriental also needs immediate help. 

This article is written not to blame neither anyone nor the government. I am only expressing my disappointment because of the lack of available information to warn and educate the citizens about the power of the Typhoon, and the lack of proper evacuation facilities that can help people during times of crises. And to share as well that the Negros Oriental Region of the Philippines needs help because of Odette’s destruction. 

The teamwork of everyone in Negros Oriental is evident, and Filipino resiliency does shine in times of crises. This is the opportunity for local leaders to outshine political interest with the willingness to help feed the hungry and rebuild their shelters.

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