Ruping prepared us for typhoon Yolanda

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2013 - 12:00am

I’m writing this piece on Thursday evening in earnest anticipation of Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” international name “Haiyan” which is expected to become one of the worst typhoons to ever hit the country. If there is any advantage for Cebuanos it is that many of us still remember what happened to Cebu City when Super Typhoon “Ruping,” international name “Mike” struck our beloved city.

While we did prepare ourselves for that super howler, we did not expect that its effect would almost be akin to being hit by a nuclear bomb because a great majority of the trees within the metropolis were brought down, including a great many power lines, which brought the Metropolis on its knees because the only power running came from private generators.

Super Typhoon “Ruping” struck us almost exactly 23 years ago on Nov. 10-14, 1990 in what I would say was a truly unforgettable event that has been etched in our memories, which we have put to good use in preparing for Super Typhoon Yolanda. We could never forget that Ruping packed gale force winds of 220 kph and resulted in 748 deaths and some P10 billion in damage that affected more than a million families in Central Visayas and rendered the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge unusable. 

Cebu City was directly in typhoon Ruping’s path and we where all awed by its eye as it passed directly over the city, because the eye of the storm was crystal clear weather with no rain. Then as the typhoon moved on, we once again felt its fury. Because 80% of all our power lines were down, it rendered most homes powerless and the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) could not pump our water from their water sources.

The Visayan Electric Company (VECO) had to seek assistance from as far away as Davao Light & Electric Company in Davao City… and yes, MCWD had to ration water for a month. So this time around many people bought a lot of pails or buckets to put in water because of our previous experience from that super typhoon when we ran out of water. 

Last Wednesday and Thursday, people went into panic buying mode, purchasing basic supplies, cleaning up the market stalls of emergency flashlights and batteries… that most stores ran out of these products including many bread products. In Bohol, families who were evacuated because of the earthquake and living in tents had to be moved out of their tents so that their temporary housing would not be blown away by the typhoon.

Typhoon Ruping was on top of the ten worst typhoons list that hit the Philippines. It just makes me wonder, where Super Typhoon “Yolanda” would be placed in that list. However the big difference between our preparedness then and now is that, we now live in the age of instant communication through the Internet and Smart phones, which were nonexistent when Super Typhoon “Ruping” struck us. However, this is what I’m scared of… we have become reliant on these technologies and if our telephone cellsites fall down, I just hope that our telephone service providers can restore these cellsites right away… including our Internet connections.

In order to give you an idea of who strong Super Typhoon “Ruping”

If you’ve played golf at the Cebu Country Club lately, you will see that we’ve got many trees in that golf course, but when Super Typhoon Ruping struck us… more than 50% of those trees fell down. The Country Club only restored some 30% of the lost trees that fell during the typhoon.

Because many homes of our members were out of power, the Country Club doubled as a relief area for the members because of its generator was able to power the lights and water and that’s were many members took their baths and had their meals. The golf course was playable only for 9-holes within a month after the typhoon due to the so many trees that needed to be cut or sawed to pieces and safely removed.

One important thing that I would never forget was when the US Navy sent a couple of Naval vessels to Cebu City so they could help assist the typhoon victims. But one Navy vessel fell victim to robbers that stole its propeller while docked in the Port of Cebu. We were so ashamed that this happened to that Navy ship that came to Cebu on a mercy mission.

Incidentally, when Super Typhoon “Ruping” struck, we had Pres. Cory Aquino as our President and yes she came to see the devastated Cebu City six-days after the typhoon. Doesn’t it make you wonder why Super typhoons hit Cebu when an Aquino is residing in Malacañang?

At this point, I don’t know if by Saturday we will have our power back… or if we can have our Wi-Fi restored so we could send our columns next week… nor will I expect even to see this newspaper sold by our newspaper vendors, because we won’t know if the runway at the Mactan Airport Authority would be free from debris. While I’m writing this, Pres. PNoy was on TV to say that the gov’t is prepared for this typhoon. I can only hope so!

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.



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