Filippinos were just getting over the Ketsena typhoon when it was announced that Parma was on its way. On Friday October 3, 2009 thousands of Filipinos who live near the coastlines and mountainous areas were evacuated as the storm battered country braced for Typhoon Parma. (Figures 1 & 1A). Moreover Typhoon Parma was expected to make landfall Saturday. The Phillippines Weather Bureau said that within the next 24 hours the Parma could develop into a super Typhoon. This was the second storm to hit the Philippines in eight days. Luckily, the east coast of Luzon does not have a large population. "Parma, known locally as Typhoon Pepeng, had maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (75 MPH) with gusts as high as 148 kilometers (92 MPH) as the eye began to leave land, heading to the Northeast, according to the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center." (www.cnn.com) The typhoon was a category 2 off shore and on land it became a category 1. As it passed over the country it began to have increased windspeed and became a category 2 (Map 1). Typhoon Parma killed hundreds of Phillipines and left most of Manila under water.

In preparation for Typhoon Parma, the president of the Phillippines, Gloria Arroyo, called on the PAGASA information (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) to monitor the typhoon and update their website with its most important information. The entire country was put on high alert and nearly all coastal operations like fishing and ferry services were suspended by the coast guard. In an effort to prepare for possible and eventual flooring, dams throughout the Phillippines where order to release dam in order to be able to support the rainfalls expected for the Typhoon Parma and not casued overflowing dams that would have caused even more devastation.The Magat Dam, Angat Dam, Pantabangan Dam and the Calirayan Dam released tons of water and officials made sure to evacuate people living near the paths of the dams. Theses preparations helped to lessen the devastation that Typhoon Parma left in its wake.

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Map 1.

(Figure 1 & 1A) Typhoon Parma

Damaging Typhoons, known as "hurricanes" in the U.S., pack powerful winds and can be very destructive. Typhoons occur when warm water combines with the cool winds in the region. "Hurricanes begin as tropical disturbances in warm ocean waters with surface tempretures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.5 degrees Celsius). These low pressure systems are fed by energy from the warm seas. If a storm achieves wind speeds of 38 miles (61 kilometers) an hour, it becomes known as a tropical depression. A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm, and is given a name, when its sustained wind speeds top 39 miles (63 kilometers) an hour. When a storm's sustained wind speeds reach 74 miles (119 kilometers) an hour it becomes a hurricane and earns a catagory rating of 1 to 5 on the Saffir-Simmpson Scale." (www.nationalgeographic.com)

Figure 1B, below, provides a diagram of a typhoon or hurricane. Note the intense wind rotating around a calm eye, as well as the warm air being sucked into the weather system. These typhoons are energized by warm coastal waters; even if they are created in the middle of the ocean, they will pick up speed and intensity when they reach warmer seas, which makes the situation twice as dangerous for any living thing in its path. (Scholastic, 1989)


(Figure 2) Landslide

Typhoon Parma triggered massive landslides in Luzon's mountain region. In the Province of Benquet, also in northern Luzon, rains set off landslides (Figures 2 and 3.) Landslides are driven by gravity and can be caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and major rainstorms. In this case these landslides were triggered by major rainstorms. As water is added to mountains it weighs the land down causing slope failure and thus causing the land to loose its friction and collapse downward at great speeds destroying everything in its path. The landslides killed more than 160 in Philippines. Included in the victims were seven miners who were buried in a landslide while sleeping in a shelter, and 34 homes were buried. "Local government officials reported more than 100 million pesos ($2.1 million) in crop damage from Parma, particularly in rice and corn farms in Isabela and Cagayan. Offficials said some 6.5 billion pesos in crops, mostly rice about to be harvested, was damaged by Ketsana last week. The damage to bridges and roads was estimated at 1.6 billion pesos." (www.canada.com)

(Figure 3) Landslide

The major factors involved in triggering landslides by Typhoon Parma was the massive amount of rain fall, floods and possibly urban planning. The down pour lasted three straight days onto an already soaked area from the previous Typhoon Ketsana. Dams were full and unless water was released from the dam, they would have broke and matters could become even worse. The dams were already overflowing and the release of the water in the dams inundated dozens of towns. "Authorities have defended their call to open the dams which flooded the region. They said that if the dams had been breached, the impact would have been far worse." (www.news.bbc.co.uk)

(Figure 4) Floods

In addition, questions are starting to arise about the unchecked growth of shantytowns along waterways. These waterways have tons of waste that is dumped daily creating a repeated risk for flooding. "But plans to resettle slum dwellers, mostly migrants from the countyrside, have proven politically unpaltable. Zoning laws are also widely flouted in city districts and outlying watershed areas." (The Christian Science Monitor) Urban planners have been advising government officials to give careful attention to where people are migrating to and their advice has been ignored. "But questions have been raised about the extent to which hillside deforestiation, watershed urbanization, and the growth of riverside slums had undermined Manila's disaster management. Critics say the politicians pleading for aid have ignored repeated warnings of the capital's vulnerability to tropical storms." (The Christian Science Monitor)

The Philippine government has been competely overwhelmed by the crisis, which has forced hundreds of thousands of people in Manila and other parts of Luzon into makeshift evacuation centers after losing their homes to the floods. Officials warn that it could take months for these flooded areas to recede. Rescue teams and relief workers fear that the death toll will rise as rescue efforts had only just got underway in some areas, as other areas were still not accessible. Roads and bridges have been damaged by the typhoon and provinces have been isolated. The Natural Disaster Coordinating Council listed more than 50 roads and bridges leading to approximately 17 provinces as unusable or impassable. The military has started to use helicopters to drop aid to the cut-off areas. 16 rubber rescue boats were deployed to help those stranded on roof tops awaiting help (Figure 6). Many of these same people had called and texted for help as the water reached the roof tops of their single story homes.

(Figure 5) Stranded Filippinos

Although the typhoon and it's rainwaters are long gone, there are still many concerns of the lasting effects that Parma will have on the affected communities in the Philippines. The Philippine government has estimated that six million people have been affected by this natural disaster. Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless and approximately 150 have died due to water borne diseases. Those in evacuation camps and especially children are most at risk of disease (Figure 7). These camps are very crowded and the conditions are unsanitary. In particular, a bacterial infection called leptospirosis - which is caused by urine from rats and other mammals. "Apart from leptospirosis, dengue fever, malaria, diarrhea, skin rashes, and other illnesses are common. Of the 35,000 people in evacuation centers, more than half suffer from some disease, most commonly acute respitary illness, according to the Department of Health." (International Herald)

(Figure 6) Risk of disease.

Although Parma avoided a direct hit to many areas of the Philippines, there was no escaping the amount of damage the water brought with it. The devestation reached far and wide. Filippinos have come together to help one another. In discussing the effects the typhoon had on the residents and their communities, a Manila resident said, "This has made me realize that the 'bayanihan spirit' (part of Filipino culture where neighbors help eachother) among Filipinos is still alive and kicking. All along I thought that it has just been part of our history and not part of these present times. I was mistaken." (www.cnn.com)


"Hurricanes." 1989. Web; Author unknown. Accessed Dec. 7, 2009. <http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4904>