Published on 6 Dec 2014 Sections ,

Memories of Haiyan as Philippines braces itself for super typhoon Hagupit

Like most people in the Philippines, we are waiting with some anxiety for the great collision – the moment when super typhoon Hagupit makes landfall on the archipelago’s eastern shore.

Like most people in the Philippines, we are waiting with some anxiety for the great collision – the moment when super typhoon Hagupit makes landfall on the archipelago’s eastern shore.

You certainly can’t blame people here for being worried. This country was deeply scarred by a super- typhoon 13 months ago and we have watched here in the capital Manila as people continuously thumb their smart-phones for news and diagrams of the storm’s projected route.

Nobody seems quite sure exactly where – or when – the storm will arrive but here’s what we do know.

The big, cylindrical clouds are propelled by winds last measured at 115mph – with gusts of up to 140mph. But the weather system as a whole is actually trundling along very slowly – at a pedestrian 3mph in fact.

That’s bad news because it suggests Hagupit (which means “smash” in Filipino) will take several days to clear the Philippines, increasing the potential impact of wind damage, widespread flooding and landslides.

As for those big questions – the “where” and  “when” – there are a range of predictions offered both by the meteorological service in the Philippines as well as alternative “models” published by the Americans, the Japanese, the Koreans and others.

If you boiled them all down and turned them into an “average” reading, you’d probably get something like this: the storm will make landfall early tomorrow (Sunday) morning, about 120 miles north of the city of Tacloban, passing through the tip Samar Province in a north-westerly direction.

The various sufferings of the people of Tacloban are seared of course, in the collective conscious. Last November, Typhoon Haiyan swept in from the Pacific, passing right over this unfortunate community and the consequences were catastrophic.

Reckoned by some to be the most powerful storm in human history – with winds of 195mph followed by a 10-metre tidal surge – Haiyan claimed the  lives of 7,000 and destroyed whole sections of the city.

This community remains vulnerable today, with tens of thousands living in tents and other forms of temporary accommodation.

Still, the authorities seem determined to prevent another disaster and have put together one of the biggest peacetime evacuations in history.

Residents take shelter in a classroom after evacuating their houses due to Typhoon Hagupit in Surigao City

More than 600,000 people have left their homes with the majority taking shelter in schools, hospitals, gyms and churches. Those with means have booked rooms in hotels – or removed themselves altogether, flying to cities outside of the storm’s path.

The mayor of Tacloban, Alfred Romualdez has tried to reassure, stating they’re much better prepared than last year.

Residents have taken the storm warnings very seriously, he added, with most people deciding to flee the city.

Follow John Sparks on Twitter: @c4sparks