Typhoon Goni Devastates Philippines
By John Mikko Velasquez
Authorities helping the citizens evacuate before the typhoon landfalls.
The strongest typhoon of the year, Typhoon Goni, struck the Philippines on November 1. It cut a path of destruction with torrential rains and calamitous winds while leaving tens of thousands of people homeless and at least 16 people dead. According to Jessar Adornado, Chief of the Office of Civil Defense Division, most of the deaths were from the flooding waters or were buried in landslides, including a five-year-old boy. Typhoon Goni, locally known as Rolly, was one of the most powerful storms to strike the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan where over 6,300 people were killed. It was so powerful it pried off rooftops, destroyed power lines, and fields of crops. Richard Gordon, Chairman of the Philippines Red Cross, stated “This typhoon has smashed into people’s lives and livelihoods on top of the relentless physical, emotional, and economic toll of Covid-19.”
Salvador Manrique - the father of the five-year-old boy - told BBC that during the evacuation, he was holding his five-year-old boy and wife with his arms while his 4 other children were clinging to his back. Manrique said, “They were all hugging me. The waters were rushing. It was strong. All of us were swept away.” His wife and eldest child have yet to be found.
Goni approached the Philippines as a super typhoon, with sustained winds of over 190 miles per hour on October 31. It then weakened to sustained winds of 135 miles per hour before making landfall on the island of Catanduanes, then to Luzon’s Bicol peninsula. In addition, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), almost 90% of the homes in parts of the country were destroyed. Fortunately, before making landfall, authorities evacuated close to a million residents from the southern part of Luzon. The Red Cross even aided authorities by providing hygiene kits and emergency response teams. Although Goni weakened before making landfall, it was still one of the most powerful storms to ever strike the Philippines. The people in the Philippines were still recovering from the three typhoons during October including Typhoon Molave which made landfall several days before Goni and killed 22 people. Moreover, according to NPR, “forecasters warn that another typhoon, Astani, is forming behind Goni,” unfortunately.
Some measures Filipinos have to take before a typhoon hits include: building an emergency kit, making family communications plans, knowing your surroundings, reinforcing doors and windows, installing clips or straps to reduce roof damage, and learning evacuation routes and where you need to go when you evacuate.
The Philippines is one of the countries most prone to natural disasters. According to the Asian Disaster Reduction Center, on average, the Philippines gets hit by 20 typhoons each year - of which five are destructive. In addition, because of its tropical and maritime climate and geographical location - it is located in the “Pacific Ring of Fire” where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently occur - it is highly susceptible to floods, storms, and tsunamis. The Philippines is usually prepared and has protocols and procedures when they strike, but Covid-19 has complicated their preparations.