In December, Typhoon Odette decimated the central Philippines.
I’ve seen dozens of typhoons affect my workers since 2005. I’ve never seen anything like Odette. Destruction like this doesn’t happen that often…but it does happen.
The Philippines is visited by an average of around 20 typhoons per year. They also get at least one alert from any of the 27 active volcanoes spread all over the country.
What is it about the Philippines that makes it a magnet for natural disasters?
It’s the location.
The Philippines lies along the Pacific Typhoon belt. Every time a typhoon forms around that area, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll be affected by it.
In the past, most typhoons don’t affect them that much or happen as often. But with climate change, like here in the US, they’ve had more destructive storms in recent years.
They’re also located in what’s known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. That’s why they have a lot of active volcanoes on land and underwater.
Because they’re in the Typhoon Belt and the Ring of Fire, they’re also more susceptible to other disasters brought about by typhoons and volcanoes like tsunamis, landslides, storm surges, and flooding.
But they are working to make themselves more resilient. In 2012, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act institutionalized disaster reduction and management in all government and the private sector. This requires every institution, no matter how big or small, to plan what to do during a disaster.
They also have a more robust disaster reporting system. Like here in the US, they get weather or flooding alerts on their phones. It tells them whether they need to evacuate or prepare for a storm.
The Philippines is also part of the Asian Disaster Reduction Center, which has helped improve its disaster planning and management. It’s a group where different Asian countries share best practices and technology to help them with disaster management and response. The US serves as an advisor country in this group.
At some point one of your OFS will be affected by a typhoon, volcano, flood. You know what’s surprising?
How quickly they recover!
Quite a few of my OFS lost their houses in Odette. Obliterated.
They’re all back to work.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten emails from OFS saying “Sir, we’re having flooding here in my town. My house has 1.2m of water in it, I had to climb on the roof to escape. But don’t worry sir, I brought my laptop with me so I saved all my files and can get back to work soon.”
They work hard.
It’s what they do.