Extreme Weather: The New Normal?

In the past, preparing for severe weather meant gathering a few supplies and possibly piling up some sandbags to help divert flood water. Recent super storms have exceeded past storms significantly. The old ways of preparing no longer work. For example, when typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines in December 2012, no one expected 160 mph winds with gusts up to 195 mph.

More powerful than Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the storm was the worst to hit the south Philippines area in its history and was the fifth such storm to hit the area since 1990, according to an article by www.guardian.co.uk. Most alarming is the fact that the area where Bopha hit, typhoons remain relatively unknown. The area has become just one more victim of a changing world climate. The question remains, what can be done to combat such ferocious storms?

With extreme weather becoming more frequent, communities and nations around the world need to get used to the fact that severe weather patterns are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Preparedness and changing the way we do things provide key areas for much-needed improvement. Whether moving communities to areas not prone to flooding or providing a more robust infrastructure for recovery, these comprise important steps that local leaders can take to improve their overall disaster preparedness.

The world community has also stepped in to provide aid to the Philippines, though financial aid has fallen well below what they need. Local officials attribute this to media coverage of the disaster not making it to the local news that often. Less coverage means less dollars. The U.N. has tried to raise funds for the recovery, but has also fallen short of their goal.

Also affected was the coconut crop, with 90% of the coconut trees lost to the storm, devastating the local economy. The response of the southern Philippine area so far has included efforts to provide shelter to those who lost their homes, clean water, some sort of sanitation plan including the building of hygiene facilities, and the eventual rebuilding and relocation of vulnerable homes. Lastly, they continue to develop preventative measures to prepare for the next big storm.

For more information about “the new normal,” visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/17/filipino-super-typhoon-climate-change