Better safe than sorry
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
Life returns to normal today, two days after classes on all levels were cancelled last Tuesday when the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration raised signal number 2 in Northern Negros in anticipation that the most powerful typhoon to hit Mindanao in decades was coming. Yesterday, typhoon signal number 1 remained over the area, so despite no rains and the sun coming out, classes remained suspended for most grade school and high school students and sea travel was still not an option.
Pablo was indeed powerful, packing sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 210kph. Despite the high level of preparedness, the death toll is already estimated to be at 238, with the casualties mostly coming from flashfloods and mudslides in Mindanao. Considering that its diameter was a substantial 500 kilometers wide and that Negros Island was directly in its path of destruction, it can be considered a miracle that the people of Northern Negros hardly even felt the howler. The irony here is that, because many of us didn’t even felt the effects of the highly-touted super typhoon, because local governments erred on the side of caution and preemptively cancelled classes even without the heavy rains and howling winds, because the sun continued to shine even while storm signal number 1 was raised both before and after Pablo passed by, PAGASA is now taking some flak for raising the alarm.
The people of Northern Negros may now afford to make jokes about Pablo and PAGASA, but nobody can deny that Pablo was as powerful and as deadly as predicted. PAGASA’s assessment and forecasted path of the typhoon matches that of the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center that rated it as a highly dangerous Category 5 storm. In hindsight, maybe classes shouldn’t have been cancelled for two whole days, but no responsible government official, given the information available at that time, would have waited for the actual symptoms of a super typhoon, to be felt before deciding to cancel sea travel or classes.
When it comes to typhoons as powerful as Pablo, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Those who were supposed to be in Pablo’s path but were missed by the storm should focus more on how fortunate they were and on how they can help their countrymen whose lives were shattered by the typhoon and less on how the storm warnings of PAGASA inconvenienced their lives for two days.*