The Aftermath of Typhoon Pepeng (Typhoon Parma)
After Typhoon Ondoy devastated my country, another typhoon ravaged the northern part of the Philippines, leaving behind more destruction.
The good news was Typhoon Pepeng (International Name: Parma) skipped the capital and those areas ravaged by Typhoon Ondoy entirely. The bad (worse) news is that it completely devastated the northern part of the Philippines, dumped so much rainwater and stayed for more than 10 days in that part of the country, providing no let-up to the people living in those premises.
When Typhoon Pepeng entered the country, its maximum sustained winds were only 130 kph and gustiness was only up to 160 kph. However, when it made landfall, it was already packing winds of more than 180 kph and was already classified as a super typhoon. It missed the capital and the other regions previously visited by Typhoon Ondoy (although rains and winds were also felt there) and went north instead where it stayed for almost 2 weeks. The typhoon would have exited much much earlier if not for the passing through of another typhoon (Typhoon Quedan – International Name: Typhoon Melor). This third typhoon did not make landfall but its entrance resulted into the return of Typhoon Pepeng (the Fujiwara effect) to Northern Luzon, resulting to more floods and devastation.
Although it did not hit the metropolis, the damage wrought by Typhoon Pepeng is no less (actually it’s much worse) than the damage brought about by Typhoon Ondoy. The following are just some of these damages that were gleaned from the newspapers and the Internet:
- Areas Affected: Pangasinan, Tarlac, BenguetProvince, Ilocos Region, Baguio, MountainProvince and the Cordillera Region.
- Death Toll: Official death count is 198 people with 46 missing. But unofficial count is already around 250 with more expected to be added in the coming days.
- Typhoon Pepeng dumped one of the heaviest rains recorded, heavier than the rainwater dumped by Typhoon Ondoy. The resulting floods reached as high as the rooftop of several houses plus turned into rivers or bodies of water the rice fields (agriculture is the major industry in the areas hardest hit by Pepeng) and destroyed several roads and highways.
- Landslides. These did not happen with Typhoon Ondoy. But since Typhoon Pepeng hovered on a mountainous region, rain-induced landslides subsequently followed, burying villages, homes, rice fields and people. In fact, majority of the deaths did not happen due to the rain or flood but due to the landslides.
- Destroyed infrastructure. Other than landslides, fast-flowing water destroyed the major roads in the region, rendering part of them impassable to vehicles of any kind. Waiting sheds were completely destroyed while the cemented road was divided as if an earthquake passed through. Although part of the road can still be used, this is not enough for the kind of traffic that flows in and out of the area, thus also resulting to heavy traffic.
- More floods expected. The amount of rain water dumped by Typhoon Pepeng was too much for the dams located within the areas affected. As a result, and to avoid damaging the dams, water has been released from these dams, further aggravating the situation. The release of such water was also partly blamed for the resulting flood. As of the writing of this hub, it is projected that 4 more dams will still be releasing their waters within the day and the coming days.
Although the people were better prepared this time, the amount of rain water and the resulting floods were more than what was expected. As a result, rescue operations and the transport of relief goods were delayed. In some areas, rubber boats and equipment to be used for the rescue could not get through because of the flood and the strong current from the release of the dam water. Although it was already declared that Typhoon Pepeng is already on its way out of the country, the damage it left behind is so vast that relief operations and the resulting rehabilitation are by no means easy tasks for anybody. Such damage will certainly not be easily forgotten.
With two typhoons battering my country in the span of two weeks, the resulting damage is something that we have never seen in our entire lives. Hopefully we will recover from this as we seem to have always recovered from any catastrophe that came our way. The next stop will be to analyze why these things happen and how to avoid such from happening again in the future. Hopefully, the analysis will not degenerate into name-calling and finger-pointing but will result to a realistic and holistic plan to avoid a repeat of the same devastation in the future.