The municipality of Tapaz, situated inland in the western part of Capiz, is home to 58 barangays , some in remote, mountainous areas. Conscious of the need to disseminate information far and wide, municipal Mayor Rosemary F. Gardose sought to prepare the community early as Super Typhoon Yolanda approached.
“We have a municipal risk and disaster office,” she explains, “and this meant that we were able to make the people in our community aware of what was happening. I think that’s why we had so few casualties: only two, a very young child, and one very old person.”
Instead of the coastal storm surges often associated with Typhoon Yolanda, the municipality experienced widespread damage as a result of the typhoon’s gale force winds.
At the local market, where many go to purchase food supplies for themselves and their families, entire sections had collapsed. “The roof fell down over my stall,” explained Heidi A. Ga’an, herself a vendor for over two decades. “Then many of my products (shoes and clothing) were stolen.”
‘We all really learned’
With support from RAY DILG funds, the public market has since been repaired. For vendors like Heidi, the changes have been a step in the right direction. “The space is bigger, and more organized,” she says. “We also now have more space for our products. It feels more resilient.”
“Yolanda was the strongest typhoon I ever experienced,” she adds. “We really learned from it. That’s why when Typhoon Ruby arrived, we really prepared and secured all our products.”
The municipality has also established broader and more resilient communications practices after Yolanda, providing additional cell phones and radios to barangays – especially to those upland and other remote areas.
“After Yolanda, we had Ruby, but we were much more prepared,” Mayor Rosemary adds. “We didn’t have to really tell our community: ‘you need to evacuate!’ They just did. We also have our disaster volunteers who spread out, along the flood-prone barangay areas: they have their own equipment, their own preparations, their own initiatives after the experience of the super typhoon.”