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Background:

  • Typhoon KETSANA ,formerly Ondoy, was created from a strengthened Tropical Depression of what was Typhoon ondoy on early September 26, 2009, about 535 miles northwest of Palau, Philippines . The depression remained weak and was downgraded to a low pressure area later that day by the Japanese Meteorological Agency. The low pressure area then regained strength early the next day and was named as Tropical Depression Ondoy by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration prompting the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to issue a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert on the depression. Due to crossing areas of moderate windshear, the storm intensified and was named Ketsana before passing over the island of Luzon in the Philippines killing hundreds and causing over $1 billion in damages before moving to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
SERIES OF EVENTS (a step by step breakdown of what actually happened)
  • 09/24/2009 Typhoon Ketsana began as a subsidized depression weakened Typhoon Ondoy. Beginning on September 24 of 2009, it approached westward 330 km from the northeast towards Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines with a maintaining speed of 55 km/h at its center. The Philippines neglected warning signs that this stormcould cause collateral damage as it nears the country’s coastal waters.

  • 09/25/2009 The Phillipine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s Joint Typhon Warning Center issues a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert on the depression. The warning came as Typhoon Ondoy weakened into a tropical depression, therefore causing the alert.
  • 09/25/2009 Later that day, Typhoon Ondoy loses its strength and was reclassified as Tropical Depression Ondoy after it weakened due to contact with a low pressure zone .
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  • 09/26/2009 Tropical Depression Ondoy moved into an area of moderate vertical windshear and upper level trough of pressure which in turn caused the tropical depression to regain its strength, causing a formation of a tropical storm which later became the destructive force that is Ketsana.
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  • 09/26/2009: Ketsana first made landfall at the border of Aurora and Quezon provinces in the eastern Philippines with winds of 85 km/h. Two hours after landfall, Ketsana approached the Metropolitan area of Manila causing widespread flooding within the city itself and the surrounding areas.
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  • 09/26/2009 Landslides continued to swallow up infrastructures and bury people after Ketsana devastated the area with heavy rain and constant flooding. Low lying areas remained flooded, some from 2 feet to waist deep and up to 6 feet in some areas.
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  • 09/26/2009 On the afternoon of September 26th, Defense Secretary and Disaster Coordinating Council Chairman Gilberto Teodoro declared an overall state of calamity on metro Manila and other provinces affected by Ketsana therefore allocating emergency funds along with troops and the Philippine National Red Cross to rescue and assist those stranded and injured. Teodoro would later be compared to Michael Brown for failing his own country's emergency response to a critical disaster.
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  • Where were the Mitigation Efforts? Officials of the Philippines government have failed to predict and prepare for the potential scale of such a disaster along with little effort to lessen major damages caused by Ketsana. Such failures of inadequately informing its citizens led to the death of at least 248 people with another 28 missing within hours of landfall. An excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor stated that [BEGINNING OF PLAGIARIZED SECTION...the floodwaters around the deluged Philippine capital Manila have yet to fully subside after the onslaught of two successive tropical storms. But the blame game over the response to the crisis, and the nation's lack of preparedness, is rippling outward. In total, more than 700 people have died and at least 6 million have been displaced, first by typhoon Ketsana. Losses to agriculture are estimated at $400 million. President Gloria Arroyo described the Philippines as a “victim” of climate change and said she would seek as much as $1 billion in foreign aid to pay for rehabilitation to begin the blame game for Ketsana’s mitigation failures. The UN has launched a separate $74 million relief appeal. Yet, questions have been raised about the extent to which hillside deforestation, 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 result may be less a parable of climate change – some experts say extreme weather events are increasing as a result of global warming as opposed to the failings of successive elected governments to heed the advice of urban planners. "A country that doesn't protect its people before disasters has no business panhandling after," wrote Juan Mercado, a columnist in the Philippine Inquirer. [END OF PLAGIARIZED SECTION[THIS IS ALL LIFTED FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR.. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2009/1015/p06s14-wosc.html] Defense secretary, Gilbert Teodoro who chairs a disaster coordinating council, has been criticized over the sluggish flow of aid to storm victims, as well as the continued inundation of some communities. Teodoro's prominence in the relief operations after failing to prepare for Ketsana have decimated his chances for presidency due to loss of favor of the people for what aid did and didn’t come their way, says Steven Rood, the country director for the Asia Foundation, a US nonprofit. It could go the other way, though, if the cleanup effort falters and victims blame the administration.

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  • Lessons to be learned, Landslides continued to swallow up infrastructures and bury people after Ketsana devastated the area with heavy rain and constant flooding. Low lying areas remained flooded, some from 2 feet to waist deep and up to 6 feet in some areas. The Philippines knows about these storms, since they have the potential to turn into typhoons. Over the years, typhoons have wreaked havoc and destruction to an already impoverished nation. Each direct hit amounts to millions worth of damages and thousands of families displaced. Well, the fact that Philippines is in what is called, 'the typhoon belt' makes us think it should been used to it and disaster measures are already in place to spare its inhabitants incase a major typhoon ends up hitting its shores? That is the case by which caused a reevaluation of the country’s disaster mitigation efforts when Typhoon Ketsana scarred the Northern regions and brought relentless rains that caused widespread floods in metropolitan areas in Luzon. The lesson taught is that natural disasters are difficult to predict, let alone, averted; but experience has taught us that being prepared at all times improves our chances of getting out from disasters alive and if more lucky, salvage material belongings. When Ketsana struck Manila, the rain caused flooding of epic proportions. Places that are not prone to flooding were soaked few meters deep, drowning anything in its path. Garbage floated back to where they once came and were put into a standstill and eventually swept away as the waters flowed like they would in a raging river. Families rushed to schools-turned-evacuation-centers to seek refuge from the rising tide. People who refused to leave their homes had gone as high as their rooftops to seek refuge from the flood. Fatalities and the missing have been logged as another chapter of woes unfolded for the Philippines, which seemed has grown numbed over tragedies.
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  • 09/29/2009 Hello Vietnam: After making landfall in the Philippines, Ketsana continued onto Vietnam with winds of up to 167 km/h as it passed the South China Sea.
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  • Responding to disaster: The Vietnamese government evacuated 170,000 people as floodwaters rose high within the country's six provinces. Airports, schools, communications and powerlines were shutdown within Ketsana's Strike zone. A total of 23 people were killed during the early hours after landfall, with numbers eventually reaching 163 dead and 17 missing.
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  • Cambodia and Laos : Ketsana began to weaken as it struck northeastern Cambodia with death tolls reaching 43 people with another 66,000 families displaced due to flooding. Ketsana continued to wreak havoc, causing major flooding in laos, killing an additional 26 people and destroying rice fields as it has with its prior victims. Humanitarian actors in Laos and Cambodia said that the challenges to disaster preparedness and response included greater coordination, and trying to work in remote and inaccessible areas but the government lacked funds and resources. "If there is a capacity gap, it is in being able to improve the areas of coordination between the government, NGOs and UN, so that we are able to move together and not duplicate efforts," said Grant Power, operations director of World Vision Lao PDR. "We were all caught by surprise by Typhoon Ketsana, and we want to learn together how we can be better prepared, and respond more rapidly in the event that we have future disasters like this," he commented. Henry Braun, country director of Care International in Cambodia, called for more recognition of the assistance that international NGOs could offer. "The support NGOs can provide in disaster response and mitigation can be much stronger in times when the national government and the UN give it good consideration," Braun told IRIN, noting that NGOs' budget of about US$7 million was not directly included in the $10 million flash appeal for Ketsana in October. Disaster preparedness and mitigation programmes are underway. Braun noted that some NGO activities had limited geographic focus due to the nature of project operations, but "had the potential to be upscaled to a national level"; how to adapt in the case of future disasters should be considered. He suggested that agencies should also look at how activities could "be rolled out to benefit the whole country and different ethnic groups - that's still not fully considered in every case."

For more information:

Information gathered from:

· Donna Miles; Lt. j.g. Theresa Donnelly (September 30, 2009). "Military Provides Rescue, Humanitarian Support in Pacific . America Forces Press Service. http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=48648 "Meanwhile, members of Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines assisted the Philippine armed forces in rescuing 52 people stranded by massive flooding during Tropical Storm Ketsana earlier this week.
· "Crop losses surge to four times earlier estimates'"GMA News. September 29, 2009. http://www.gmanews.tv/story/173398/crop-losses-surge-to-four-times-earlier-estimates
· 23 Dead as Ondoy roars into Vietnam: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=509659&publicationSubCategoryId=200
· Metro Manila, 25 provinces placed under state of calamity 09/26/2009 http://www.gmanews.tv/story/173229/metro-manila-25-provinces-placed-under-state-of-calamity
· "Significant Tropical Weather Advisory for the Western and Southern Pacific Oceans 2009-09-23 06z". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 2009-09-23. ftp://ftp.met.fsu.edu/pub/weather/tropical/GuamStuff/2009092306-ABPW.PGTW.
· "Prognastic Reasoning for Tropical Depression 17W 2009-09-25 03z". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 2009-09-25. ftp://ftp.met.fsu.edu/pub/weather/tropical/GuamStuff/2009092503-WDPN.PGTW.
· Prognastic Reasoning for Tropical Depression 17W 2009-09-25 15z". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 2009-09-25. ftp://ftp.met.fsu.edu/pub/weather/tropical/GuamStuff/2009092515-WDPN.PGTW.
· "Tropical Storm 17W JTWC Advisory 2009-09-25 21z". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 2009-09-25. ftp://ftp.met.fsu.edu/pub/weather/tropical/GuamStuff/2009092521-WTPN.PGTW.
· "JMA Tropical Cyclone Advisory: 2009-09-26 00z". Japan Meteorological Agency. 2009-09-26. http://www.webcitation.org/5k48rJSHf.
· "Tropical Cyclone Warning Signals Hoisted in September 2009". Hong Kong observatory. 2009-09-29. http://www.hko.gov.hk/cgi-bin/hko/warndb_e1.pl?opt=1&sgnl=1.or.higher&start_ym=200909&end_ym=200909&submit=Submit+Query.
· "Tropical Cyclone advisory Macau 2009-09-27 21z". Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau. 2009-09-27. http://www.webcitation.org/5k6yt9FPW.
-· "Vietnam National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting . http://www.nchmf.gov.vn