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Preparing for the worst

September 29th, 2009
06:47 PM ET

(CNN) - After lashing the Philippines for several days, Typhoon Ketsana has now turned its focus on Vietnam.

Filipino pedestrians in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, brave Tropical Storm Ketsana's floodwaters.

Filipino pedestrians in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, brave Tropical Storm Ketsana's floodwaters.

Ketsana left at least 246 people dead as it passed over the Philippines. Another 38 people are still missing, according to the nation's National Disaster Coordinating Council.

Nearly two million people have been affected by the killer storm and 567,000 people had been evacuated.

Read more about the story here.

Ketsana comes only weeks after the region was ravaged by another storm –- Typhoon Morakot – which claimed the lives of almost 400 people in Taiwan.

The island’s premiere Liu Chao-shiuan tendered his resignation after coming under fire for reacting slowly to the crisis. The storm triggered mudslides that wiped out entire villages in mountainous regions of southern Taiwan.

Now the Filipino government is trying to face down criticism it too was caught unprepared by a storm that left almost 80 percent of its capital, Manila, under water at one point on Sunday.

While there’s an obvious argument for greater preparedness in a region prone to tropical storms, the ferocity of the typhoons may indicate something altogether more difficult to legislate for – climate change.

Scientists around the globe are looking closely at all the evidence associated with global warming to come up with predictions for our future environment and weather.

They speculate over whether we're likely to see an increase in sea levels or an increase in flooding, and wonder what can be done to protect those most at risk.

Is it fair for the likes of  Taiwan and the Philippines to be criticized for their response to events possibly symptomatic of a problem we’re all responsible for?

Tell us what you think and we will use some of your comments in the show.


Filed under:  General
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Angela Ayagan

    typhoon is a natural calamity and could not be predicted, it is an unstable conditioned, if the Philippine Gov't were critisize negatively about they way they have handled it...well it is not fair at all. A lot of the rescuers were also victims and given up thier lives just to save someones lfe. Lets just put aside questiones and focus on actions on how to help those people survive for their remaining love ones and move on. lets just pray for all the souls and help the goverment restore the beauty of Philippines.

    September 29, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  2. David Klinke

    The Philippines, and other countries of this region of the world, have/had grown complacent with typhoons and flooding, as they were all just part of the "rainy season". But every year the effects of global warming become more and more evident, and show that the status quo and *learning to live with it* just aren't viable responses to the increasing severity of these problems. It's a global issue, but they certainly share in the responsibility, and it is high time that they become more proactive. They should reduce the number of automobiles allowed, and they should mandate that all the allowed vehicles have catalytic converters. They should limit building on reclaimed lowlands, improve or completely rebuild their sewage and drainage systems, and they should probably build a system of man-made reefs to stem the sea flooding. They shouldn't have to go it alone though. The international community, particularly the "have" countries, should oversee and partially fund these types of initiatives. If countries like the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Seychelles and Maldives don't request/take immediate action then the deaths of innocents will certainly grow, exponentially.

    September 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  3. Scheherazaide

    the philippine government has its own flaws when it comes to disaster preparations and actions, but beyond these flaws is a fact that we are all facing this climate change challenge. what happened here, i believe is not a mere criticism for our government's policies, but it is a call that has been repeatedly knocking on our doors, wanting to draw our attention to what is happening on a larger scale. climate change is indeed a global issue and we all should take ownership of the trend where this issue is heading. my prayers to my fellow Filipinos.

    September 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  4. etta ebot

    what role does mr "James Bond " in movies is reflected to be a model in UNICEF?. And what part of mr actor is being exploited by UNICEF to achive its purpose?

    September 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  5. Bren

    This is one of many places that need prayer and action behind that prayer. I hope we can join forces and help rebuild and better future for them....and those in other parts of the world who are victims.

    The Bible
    Psalm 143: 8-10
    Isaiah 1

    September 29, 2009 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  6. Edwin Manaois

    Climate change? Now I'm listening, but the government isn't yet. It's priorities are focused somewhere – politics. Even at the local government level, we've been talking about risk and disaster preparedness they seemed preoccupied with other things in mind – politics. Now how can politics influence climate change?

    September 29, 2009 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  7. lifeaftereighty

    When are we ever going to awaken to fact that all people are one people?

    Our first response to hearing of a natural disaster should be the old adage: "There, but for the grace of God, go I"? It should never be to look for someone to blame.

    As early as tomorrow morning it could be my country, my family, my funeral. Let us, instead, be grateful and feel sympathy for every living thing in a natural disaster area.

    September 29, 2009 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  8. Mary

    The government was prepared for the usual storm, but the amount of rain that hit manila was unusual. No amount of preparation could be made for such. I have to say the government did what they could given the circumstances. Rescue teams couldn't be deployed immediately given the heavy rain, the traffic, and the rising water. A few rescuers lost their lives in an attempt to brave the flood.
    Also, the amount of people affected by the flood was too big even for the rescuers. What people forget is the rescuers are people too. And that these circumstances are unusual and may be result of the changing climates.

    September 30, 2009 at 12:40 am | Reply
  9. Catherine Hipolito

    Although not all of us, Filipinos, were affected. There are many critics of the government right now especially since the Presidential election is almost upon us. I can truly say that most criticisms come from Filipinos who were affected by typhoon Ondoy (Ketsuna) not because they want to target the government directly but because they want to let out their frustrations and they don't have anyone else to blame. Add to the fact that since the Presidential election is near, most politicians who are seen on TV helping the affected are thought only as "buttering up" the people just so they can be elected next year.

    September 30, 2009 at 6:49 am | Reply
  10. zeromellamd

    We are all accustomed here in the Philippines of getting through large typhoons as many pass by this country in a single year. This was the first time in 40 years that a massive flood in the Metro has caught us by surprise. Water reached unimaginable levels as entire areas became submerged. Everybody lent a hand, including the victims themselves. Within localities, each has a system of helping each other. We all know what to do but then again this was the worst storm that has hit us yet. I wouldn't tag the our government as unprepared. It is managing the situation the way it has always done. Efficiency is largely dependent on people willing to lend an unselfish hand.

    September 30, 2009 at 7:06 am | Reply
  11. ladymabelle

    I agree with that..if we continue to put blames to others, then no solutions will be done..we just pray for those people who lost thier relatives and eventually move on..a natural calamity is always a natural calamity..Lets stop criticizing the government becuase they also did thier best to help fix the problem and they've reaching out thier hands to the people who are needed especially to those affected areas..

    September 30, 2009 at 7:56 am | Reply
  12. Kenny Nodalo

    This is not the time for finger pointing or blaming somebody. After all, the people and the government here are to be blamed.

    Two things.

    The government failed to address the flash flood issue sooner. And I am not just talking about the present administration. I know the government is doing its best but it's not good enough. So, I hope, that aside from building genuine infrastructure projects to curve flash floods, the government must be sincere in apprehending illegal loggers, implementing sustainable pro-environment programs and might as well consider mining as a serious threat to environmental degradation.

    The people on the other hand must heed lessons from this tragedy. Let's start by thinking "green" and living "green". Let's be responsible. Segregate waste and dispose them off properly. We can use recyclable bags instead of plastic bags when we go to groceries. Let's help clean our canals. We can send plastic containers to recycling depots- a lot of businessmen buy empty bottled water and plastic containers nowadays. Let's plant trees especially in the bald mountains. Little things like these help a lot.

    September 30, 2009 at 8:42 am | Reply
  13. Kenny Nodalo

    This is not the time for finger pointing or blaming somebody. After all, the people and the government here are to be blamed.

    Two things.

    The government failed to address the flash flood issue sooner. And I am not just talking about the present administration. I know the government is doing its best but it's not good enough. So, I hope, that aside from building genuine infrastructure projects to curve flash floods, the government must be sincere in apprehending illegal loggers, implementing sustainable pro-environment programs and might as well consider mining as a serious threat to the environment.

    The people on the other hand must heed lessons from this tragedy. Let's start by thinking "green" and living "green". Let's be responsible. Segregate waste and dispose them off properly. We can use recyclable bags instead of plastic bags when we go to groceries. Let's help clean our canals. We can send plastic containers to recycling depots- a lot of businessmen buy empty bottled water and plastic containers nowadays. Let's plant trees especially in the bald mountains. Little things like these help a lot.

    September 30, 2009 at 8:43 am | Reply
  14. psychologist1

    poor people. i have only one thing because of all these natural accidents in the world: people are guilty in them. people's influence on nature grows day by day, so here it is – the nature's revenge.

    September 30, 2009 at 9:02 am | Reply
  15. Eugene Claravall

    Even though calamities can never be predicted and casualties are inevitable but the Philippine government could have at least prepared better. The number of lives (both victims and rescuers) that were lost could have been drastically lessened if the Government specifically the Department of National Defense had the foresight and correct equipment to react to such eventualities. Unfortunately funds that would have been allocated for such situations are wantonly siphoned through government corruption and mismanagement. Our archipelago country being located right smack in the typhoon belt will bear brunt of climate change (Any grade 4 student can tell you this). Floods and landslides have become worse through the years. What has the Government done to prepare for this? We don't even have Doppler radars to track rain volume more so the measly fleet of rubber boats to rescue victims (only 5 were operational in the eastern Metro Manila area of Cainta at the height of the disaster). Typhoon Ketsana is not a surprise...the Philippine Government's unpreparedness is.

    September 30, 2009 at 9:02 am | Reply
  16. Katie Rhoda

    Yes, the Philippines was unprepared. While it's true that typhoons are natural calamities and they cannot be predicted, it cannot be said that this is the first typhoon or flood experienced by Filipinos. The flood may have been extreme, but if there was adequate preparation like rubber boats with motors, rescuers trained to respond quickly, etc. there could have been less deaths. Also, it is already known that July to September is typhoon season. We cannot know whether the typhoons will be bad or not, in the same way we cannot know if the next winter will be bad or not; but preparation helps. I am Filipino and live in Manila. At home we have a supply of candles and flashlights and emergency lights and we know where to reach for them even in the dark. We have a supply of drinking water which is regularly replaced. We have a supply of food which do not spoil easily and can be easily consumed in case it is impossible to cook. These are necessary things in the Philippines. Unfortunately, many people do not think they need to prepare for disasters or else expect others to save them. Further, while it is important to help the victims, it is also necessary to learn from this experience and prepare for these possibilities.

    September 30, 2009 at 10:22 am | Reply
  17. Peter

    I added your blog to bookmarks. And i'll read your articles more often!

    September 30, 2009 at 11:07 am | Reply
  18. mimimu

    Typhoon Ondong is by far the worst typhoon that hit the Philippines that caused massive destruction in the property and lives of many Filipino. But this is not the first major storm that hit the Philippines, each time the scenario is the same, and each time the over pouring massages and advices are all the same – We should take care of our environment, segregate our waste, stop illegal logging, etc. Yet it seems that we never learn from our experience. As we progress in life, tragedy becomes worst although all of us know what to do to prevent this tragedy from happening again and again, only few of us are actually doing something to help save our environment. We all know the actually cause of the problem and until we really act and move to solve the problem. there will still be strong typhoons, flash floods, lost of properties and deaths. We should not just blame the government for what happened because all of us contributed to the problem.

    "Take care of Mother Nature, and she will take care of us all"

    September 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  19. Poe

    All governments ought to be responsible for their people. While we may have had a hand to play in the misfortune that Nature that dealt them, they should have been prepared. And while they showed more competence vs. the typhoons than Bush vs. Katrina/other disasters, there is MUCH more room for improvement.

    September 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  20. Denise

    I feel that nobody should be blamed . Instead of picking on people/things to blame on , we (everyone, especially the government and relevant organizations that are able to help) should focus on helping these people . Sometimes people can be overclouded by self-righteousness , to the extent that they fail to look beyond it and what is needed to be done .

    September 30, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  21. Dustin Carbonera

    The problem is caused by so many factors. As with the Philippines, it was something that hit us unexpectedly. Quezon City and Makati, two major cities here, were taken in shockacc as they were flooded hard; some areas having waist to neck deep water. The last time there was a flood like this that hit these cities were last 1968. Imagine the shock that was!
    Anyway, all of us are responsible. I do believe that it is linked with climate change, something that we all are accounted for.
    Hmmm, and amazingly, calamity/emergency funds are out, (mis)used by the great President with her lavish trips abroad.
    Oops, I'll stop the pointing, I'll get back to sharing.

    September 30, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  22. MarcyS

    I wonder, were there typhoons as massive as this one in the past? Or is this a part of global climate change?

    September 30, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  23. jcg

    It is because God Is angry to the people that did not obey him..
    Job9:5-6
    Amos9:6

    September 30, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  24. archipelagonow

    All these breaking events such as the earthquake in Indonesia, Typhoon Ketsana, are seemingly all related to the effects of climate change. I think its very difficult to fully prepare for the worst but it should be a wake up call for us to band together to make a positive change on the environment. For too long, we have built our cities to work against nature rather than with it. We need to simultaneously have short term solutions such as temp housing for the displaced to long term solutions that have tighter emission standards and renewed infrastructure.

    September 30, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  25. jcg

    Amo 9:6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.
    Job 9:5-6 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. (6) Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
    Psa 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

    October 1, 2009 at 1:15 am | Reply
  26. mahrukh

    the government could have done something, after all, nodays we have advanced modern techonolgy

    October 1, 2009 at 10:51 am | Reply
  27. Mvminvinsible

    it is not fair. they just want to be popular by blaming the government.

    October 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  28. Kons

    The truth is that there was more privately funded rescues and the government was not able to handle the situation as well as they could. There was another news on how GMA, the president, spent P800 million for her travel expenses. This P800m came from the pockets of the Philippine nation and was saved up for emergencies, such as this.

    There are a lot of instances where you read about people saving lives. one young teenager that was a great swimmer saved 16 people and in the process dieing. Another was a judge saving 100 people with his jetski and rubber boats. The government failed in trying to support the country.

    October 1, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Reply
  29. Raph Manny Gregor Gasal

    It's good to see that amidst the storm crisis Filipinos come together to help one another.

    On the other side of the issue,emergency response and calamity preparation program is not that well set up.I think the government should allocate the funds in emergency cases like this .And one more thing, infrastructure development projects should be more functional in calamities like this (e.g drainage systems).

    October 27, 2009 at 1:58 am | Reply
  30. jessie

    Wow and wow!

    February 15, 2011 at 8:46 am | Reply

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