EDITORIAL - Bracing for another super typhoon

The Philippine Star

The country has suffered grievous loss of lives, crops and property from typhoons of varying strengths, so people must be familiar by now with preventive safety and mitigation protocols.

In this dry season, the country is bracing for another super typhoon, which has just pummeled Guam. Mawar, which will be called Betty when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility this weekend, roared across the US territory as a Category 4 cyclone with winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour, according to reports.

Super Typhoon Yolanda, which flattened large swathes of Eastern Visayas in 2013, was a Category 5 cyclone. A Category 4 cyclone, however, is powerful enough, and Mawar could still pick up strength as it moved toward the Philippines.

Weather experts have issued sufficient alerts and tracked the likely path of the typhoon, so the places expected to be hardest hit are known. Local government units, working with the national government, must be fully prepared for the cyclone.

Residents in coastal communities must be readied for evacuation to sites with decent accommodations, with adequate health and sanitation facilities. Those in charge of the evacuation centers must remember that COVID-19 is still around, with highly transmissible coronavirus subvariants posing a threat particularly to the vulnerable elderly and the immunocompromised. The Arcturus strain of COVID is also known to infect even young children.

With the typhoon approaching, some local governments have urged their farmers to harvest crops even if the timing is slightly premature. Rescue teams and equipment are being readied, while houses and other structures made of light materials are being lashed to the ground. Light fishing boats are being secured inland.

Mawar is the first super typhoon to enter the country this year, and the second cyclone after Tropical Depression Amang struck the Bicol region in April. Climate change has fueled extreme and unpredictable weather disturbances, and we have seen the images of Mawar wreaking havoc in Guam. This powerful cyclone is barreling toward the Philippines. There is no excuse for being unprepared.

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