‘Don’t take it lightly’
Thus was the warning from so many quarters, particularly those involved in weather forecasting It was to bring home the point that the wind of typhoon Ompong would be dangerous and the rain could even surpass that of Ondoy.
From where we sit, it seems that majority of the populace took the warning to heart. Most of us prepared for the worst having seen how devastating Ondoy was and how scary Yolanda was. Up to now, the victims of Yolada have yet to recover from the tragedy, physically and mentally. Up to now, any mention of strong rain of Ondoy proportions would send shivers up the spine of those in Metro Manila who went through Ondoy. Even areas there which are a bit elevated—and were never flooded for about half a century— were not spared from Ondoy’s rampaging flood waters. The engines of big trucks were drowned while cars were floating like match boxes.
The rain Ondoy poured was about 500mm for about 24 hours. This was, however, exacerbated by the release of water from the La Mesa dam where most of the Metro’s water supply come from. The rain dropped by Ompong was about 750mm in seven hours. ‘Don’t take it lightly,’ therefore was good enough. But ‘It wil be deadly!’ would have been more appropriate.
Our being receptive now regarding typhoon warnings is not just the result of Ondoy or Yolanda. It is also caused by the many reliable sources of weather forecasters such as CNN or the metrological center of Japan.
Unlike before when PAGASA was the only accessible source of information for many Filipinos. And its forecasts were a joke. If it warned of a strong typhoon, it might be sunny on the day forecasted. So everybody was a non-believer.
Now, even PAGASA has improved. Its forecasts can be believable and it can be validated or debunked by foreign forecasters.
The other remaining ingredients for more lives to be saved as has been proven by Ompong is for government officials to implement force evacuation strictly. And to ban dwellings in hazardous areas. Hopefully we now can improve in these aspects as we did in dishing out reliable typhoon warnings.**