Everyday History
The devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Basey, Samar
Calamities in the Philippines Daily History

Typhoon Yolanda devastates Visayas: Nov. 8, 2013

On this day in 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) devastated Central Philippines, particularly Eastern Visayas. It was the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall in the Philippines.

The typhoon formed as a low pressure area in the east-southeast of Pohnpei, Micronesia on Nov. 2. It began to move eastward across the West Pacific Ocean toward the Philippines and became a typhoon on Nov. 4.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) assigned it the local name Yolanda on Nov. 6 as it was the 23rd typhoon to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Phl’s strongest typhoon to date

As the typhoon neared the Philippine landmass, the Aquino Administration urged communities in the projected path of the typhoon to prepare for the storm. Classes were suspended in throughout the Visayas Region, as well as in Palawan, Southern Luzon and Metro Manila.

President Benigno Aquino III warned communities in the affected areas to prepare for the possibility of storm surges, such as the one the affected Ormoc, Leyte in 1990. He also ordered the military to deploy its air and naval assets to areas expected to be in the path of the typhoon to provide assistance if needed.

Typhoon Yolanda made landfall at Guiuan, Eastern Samar, at 4:40 a.m. of Nov. 8 with winds of up to 315 kph and storm surges of up to 15 feet in height. Among the most devastated places was Tacloban City, Leyte where many low-lying areas were devastated by storm surges.

The typhoon also devastated northern Cebu, northern Negros, Capiz, Aklan, northern Antique and northern Palawan. It also affected communities in Bohol where are magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck two weeks before.

The typhoon left 6,352 dead, more than 1,000 missing, and over six million displaced from their homes. It remains the most destructive typhoon in Philippine history, leaving P95.5-billion worth of damage to property and agriculture.

A few palm trees remain standing amid the destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City, Leyte on Nov. 24, 2013. Photo by Henry Donati, UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
A few palm trees remain standing amid the destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City, Leyte on Nov. 24, 2013. Photo by Henry Donati, UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
Humanitarian crisis

Although the Aquino Administration immediately mobilized different government agencies to provide aid to the affected communities, the scale and wide spread of the destruction, disablement of communications and electricity, and damaged infrastructure hampered the delivery of aid, especially in far-flung island communities.

In the aftermath of the typhoon, the situation on the ground quickly turned into a humanitarian crisis, with survivors looting stores, homes and warehouses in search of food and other basic needs. Dead bodies also littered the streets uncollected in affected areas in the few days after the typhoon because of the lack of manpower.

Because of the difficult situation in the affected communities, thousands of survivors decided to relocate to other unaffected areas in the days after the typhoon. Airlifts and sealift missions were conducted to safely relocate these survivors to places like Southern Luzon and Metro Manila.

The international community quickly mounted a global effort to provide aid to the affected communities, with as many as 40 countries pledging up to P11 billion in funds as well as sending their respective military planes and ships to deliver basic necessities to affected communities.

Various non-government organizations and aid groups also lent a hand in providing food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and post-disaster psychological services to survivors.

Various military aircraft from the US Navy drop supplies over Tacloban Airport in Tacloban, Leyte on Nov. 14, 2013, in  support of humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman/US Navy, via Wikimedia Commons
Various military aircraft from the US Navy drop supplies over Tacloban Airport in Tacloban, Leyte on Nov. 14, 2013, in support of humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman/US Navy, via Wikimedia Commons
Rehabilitation efforts

In the months after the typhoon, it became a logistical challenge for the Aquino administration to provide temporary shelters and relocation for the affected families. The succeeding Duterte administration continued to support rehabilitation efforts in the region, with limited success.

Even while much of the affected areas have already recovered more than five years later, a number of housing projects intended for Typhoon Yolanda survivors have yet to be turned over to the beneficiaries.

The onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines remains one of the harrowing reminders of how vulnerable the Philippines is to the adverse effects of global warming and climate change.

References
Trivia Question

Which city in Samar was reported to have doubled its population in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda due to the influx of refugees?

Yesterday’s answer: Elena de la Paz

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