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Typhoon Season Begins in the Philippines

The Philippines gets hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year from June to December, most especially between August and October. With these typhoons often come torrential rains which generally travel from the north to the south, leaving trails of flood and devastation in the country. Even though Metro Manila is protected from many winds by a ring of mountains, the city naturally tends to be flooded. Work and businesses come to a halt, and many low-lying areas across the city are heavily affected, such that residents may be forced to evacuate their homes and settle in camps.

The Philippines endured El Niño during the first half of the year, and this may mean that the amount of rainfall and floods may be less in 2016, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

The Philippines has been a hotbed of typhoons in recent years, from Typhoon Ketsana in September 2009, Bopha in 2012, and Haiyan in 2013, which destroyed the province of Tacloban, Leyte and its surrounding towns and cities with over 10,000 deaths and casualties.

Flat Planet, in preparation for the rainy season, diligently monitors Tropical Storm Risk up to a week prior to the arrival of typhoons, which helps management gauge and predict the level of operations in the coming days. By using this service, clients can normally get several days’ warning before any interruptions.

Flat Planet does not generally encourage its employees to wade through the flood to get to work—they may be exposed to live electricity wires, and open themselves to the possibility of infections and leptospirosis if they have cuts or wounds on their feet and legs. There is usually zero visibility at these times so it is not safe to risk going to work in any means possible. Floods also take between two to three days to dissipate.

The welfare of Flat Planet’s people comes first. During these times, a contingency plan is in effect, with the employees being informed of work suspensions at the earliest time possible. Flat Planet also keeps track of the safety status of each of its employees according to their area of residence, access to clean food and water, and electricity. This allows the company to prioritize helping employees in need, although practical reality often means there is often very little that can be done.

Despite the dire situation, this is typically when Philppine ingenuity shines bright. Across the metro and other provinces, you can see entrepreneurship at work with all the makeshift wooden bridges and boats that can transport people from one place to another. The Filipino spirit isn’t dampened by such natural calamities.

As a response to disaster prevention and mitigation, the Department of Science (DOST), initiated Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. Through disaster science research development, DOST-Project NOAH is able to acquire accurate data through PAGASA and PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) and other agencies to disseminate to and prepare the public. This year there is a noticeable difference in cancelling classes for students—suspension announcements are announced a day in advance to help more Filipinos be informed and maintain safety for their families. 

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