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‘Leyte was warned two years ago’

MANILA, Philippines - Residents of coastal communities in Leyte were warned as early as two years ago of severe flooding from storm surges reaching as high as 12 meters (39.37 feet).

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said local executives of Leyte were provided with inundation maps in 2011 under the READY project funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) through the United Nations Development Program.

The inundation map was designed in a worst-case scenario showing the coastal barangays of Leyte vulnerable to a high level of storm surges ranging from three to six meters, PAGASA added.

The three-year READY project (also known as Hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community-Based Disaster Risk Management), was a joint collaboration of PAGASA, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

The storm surge hazard mapping of Leyte showed most parts of Leyte, including Tacloban City, suffering inundation from four meters to 12 meters in a worst-case scenario.

Conducting the mapping were Wilfredo Tuazon, Nestor Nimes and Julie Nimes of the PAGASA’s Astronomical, Geophysical and Space Sciences branch.

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The study recommended the construction of rigid seawalls and breakers with piled foundation for protection against storm surges.

“It is highly recommended to let the local governments use this (storm surge hazard map) as reference for their disaster mitigation and preparedness plans and land use planning,” the study said.

It also suggested the planting and preservation of mangroves along the shoreline as these help in dissipating big waves and storm surges.

Storm surges of up to seven meters devastated Tacloban City at the height of Typhoon Yolanda last Nov. 8.

Yolanda packed maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour as it made landfall in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, generating storm surges as high as seven meters, the average height of a two-story building.

Yolanda left more than 4,000 people dead, mostly from the Samar and Leyte provinces, and over a thousand missing.

Also read: Weathermen to Ted Failon: 'Our lady colleague died in the service of country'

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