How to minimize damages caused by typhoons?


As a subject of discussion, typhoons are of more than just curious interest to the populations of the Western Pacific.

In fact, many of those people have experienced the fury of a typhoon.

They have seen roofs of homes carried away.

They have seen entire homes smashed as though made of paper and matchsticks.

They have known the terror of muddy water swirling around their homes—water that fell in sheets during the course of the storm.

They have cowered and waited helplessly as one-hundred-mile-per-hour winds lashed at the whole countryside.

What might be done to restrain this capricious giant, the typhoon from causing enormous damage?

What you can do to minimize damages

Even though considerable advance warning is even now given of approaching typhoons, many tend to ignore or treat lightly the seriousness of the warning.

Perhaps they have survived previous storms and feel that there is not the need to worry.

Or it may be that the passage of time since that last typhoon has blunted the sharpness of their sense of great danger.

Theirs is a very unwise course.

The best course is to prepare for the worst, heed the storm warnings of the weather bureau, and become familiar with the meanings of the public storm signals in whatever form they are given.

Be conversant with practical precautionary measures, and do not fail to follow them through as the typhoon approaches.

It helps to be able to recognize the signs that mark the typhoon’s approach—characteristics of the wind and the waves, their behavior in general.

Generally typhoons move in a northwesterly direction in Southeast Asia.

Refuse to be unduly alarmed by rumors.

However, pay close attention to weather bulletins as provided by radio, television or newspaper.

If warned to evacuate a dangerous area, do so without delay.

If you feel justified in staying in your home, be sure to take account of all your needs.

Remember, power may be cut off temporarily.

Water supply may be halted or contaminated.

Thus you will want to have foods that require little or no cooking, and you will definitely need to have a store of good drinkable water.

Other emergency equipment should be checked to make sure you know where it is and that it is in usable order.

Usually well-built homes are thought to be quite secure.

However, it is wise not to be too confident.

In winds of up to two hundred miles per hour they may not be safe, especially if located near the coast or in an unsheltered place.

Some questions to consider in advance are:

 Are there heavy branches or trees that might fall on the home?

Is the roof secure?

To what extent is flooding going to present a danger?

In much of Southeast Asia the homes are not solidly built.

Bamboo, leaves and wood products are the building materials.

When a typhoon warning is posted, what can be done?

To give the structure strength, poles are put up at angles against the house and dug into the ground.

Guy wires are also tied from the house to the ground.

Since the wind reverses itself during the passing of a typhoon, poles and wires are used on all sides of the dwelling.

Thus, no matter which way the building is subject to stress, there is something to offset it.

The effect of a typhoon on one’s means of livelihood also needs to be taken into account.

In many areas of Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands coconut trees are the principal source of income.

Though not usually uprooted, these trees sustain considerable damage from the typhoon, largely through damage to the leaves.

It seems that the leaves draw up the moisture to feed the fruit and they contain the chlorophyll so essential for converting sunlight into plant food.

Even if the tree continues to bear fruit following the big storm, it is more than likely that the coconuts will be empty, and thus of no commercial value.

It does not seem that anything can be done to prevent typhoons, but some suggestions on how to offset some of the economic loss might be considered.

Farmers are encouraged, for example, to plant legume crops such as peanuts, or mangoes and bananas, in among the coconut trees.

In many instances where this suggestion has been followed farmers have not only gained a second source of income, but the yield of the coconut trees has increased by as much as 69 percent.

And if the coconut trees do happen to suffer from storm damage, these secondary crops grow much faster so that the farmer is not left without any income or food source.

Rice is another major crop in this region.

However, because of repeated typhoons some areas are useless when it comes to producing successful rice crops.

One of these is Batanes province in the far north of the Philippine Islands.

Instead, root crops are planted, crops not so severely affected as rice, crops of camote or sweet potato perhaps.

This could be an extra crop in many other areas where typhoon losses are usually high.