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Storm Nalgae Devastates Parts of the Philippines

By: Samuel Lin

Throughout late October and early November, floods and mudslides caused by Storm Nalgae ravaged Maguindanao province in the Philippines, forcing 1.9 million people to evacuate and leaving almost 190 dead or missing.

Storm Nalgae is just one of about 20 lethal storms that come to the Philippines every year. Deforestation, climate change, and poor building infrastructure makes the Philippines more vulnerable in storms and typhoons. To prepare for the harsh storms, the Philippines government sets aside a money for disaster preparedness, and build temporary evacuation shelters.

One particularly hard-hit area was the coastal Kusiong village that was buried under a landslide. When Storm Nalgae came, they thought there was going to be a tsunami, which frequent the village. The villagers went to the high ground to avoid what they thought was a tsunami: what they did not expect was a deadly mudslide.

“When the people heard the warning bells, they ran up and gathered in a church on a high ground,” explained Naguib Sinarimbo, the Bangsamoro Minister of the Interior and Local Government. “The problem was, it was not a tsunami that inundated them but a big volume of water and mud that came down from the mountain.”

80 to 100 people were killed or are missing. "Had she died of illness it would have been less painful," said villager Mercedes Mocadef when the daughter of her cousin died to the storm.

Subsequently, groups of rescue workers, police, army veterans, and volunteers came to help the survivors and find the dead or missing by poking long wooden sticks into the mud. Sniffer dogs and bulldozers also assisted.

Beyond those directly injured or killed, 900,000 people had to evacuate to either evacuation shelters or the homes of their family. Storm Nalgae also tore down more than 4,000 homes and 40,000 acres of crops. In addition, many flights to the Philippines were canceled after the storm, when many family members were coming back to celebrate All Saints Day, a popular holiday there, with their family.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said after the storm, "It will be important for us to look back and see why this happened. Why did we fail to evacuate them? Why do we have such a high casualty (figure)?" The president is also ordering fresh water, boxes of food, and other necessities to be brought to survivors.


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