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The Philippines is one of the world’s largest archipelagos, which is a chain or cluster of islands. Being so, it gets hit with many storms each year that come in off the South China Sea and because the storm has no land to slow it down, these storms often hit the Philippines hard with devastating results.


During the rainy season it is not unusual to get hit with tropical storms, monsoons or cyclones. Recently I encountered my first cyclone, Cyclone Rammasun (Glenda). By nature, once these storms hit a landmass they tend to lose their veracity and slow down and become less destructive.


If you live on the coast this can spell bad news, often with loss of life and destruction of property. I live about six kilometres from the coast and live on a third floor apartment, so I was relatively safe.

July 2015 Cyclone Rammasun (Glenda) Image from Metrogroup

Here are 14 common sense tips that may help if ever you have to go through a similar situation.


1. Tie down or remove any lose items. Includes pot plants, rubbish bins, anything outside really that might fly away or be blown over.


2. Ensure you have charged your electronic devices. Your tablets and phones. Any battery packs and don’t forget those rechargeable torches or lights. If you have time get a battery powered radio as well.


3. Don’t go outside during the storm. When there are high winds one of the biggest dangers is being hit with flying debris. If a slice of a tin roof was to hit you it would be all over.


4. Stock up on non-perishable food like rice and tinned good. One of the biggest dangers is not the storm itself, but being able to be self-sufficient for a number of days if the power and water is cut indefinitely and the shops are closed.


5. Ensure you have a gas bottle or two as back up. If you have an electric stove, it probably won’t work if there is damage to the power grid. Don’t forget some matches as well. Have plenty of drinking water available.


6. Fill up any containers you have with water. This is non drinking water straight from the tap. It can be used for bathing, and washing if required. It can also be boiled for 5 minutes and cooled in an emergency to be used as drinking water.


7. Stock up on candles so you have a bit of light at night time. Might be an idea to have some disposable batteries on hand as well.


8. Have some games organised for the children. There might be no power and TV for a while, so have a few activities on hand to keep everyone occupied. Have a few books for yourself as well.


9. Have some old towels or rags and a mop and some sponges handy. When the storm is in full force, the water will come in any crack, like in between the windows, the air con unit or your roof might leak.


10. Fill up your car with petrol in case you need to evacuate. Only if you have enough warning prior and it is safe to do so.


11. Check on any elderly or less mobile neighbours to see if they need a hand.


12. Advise all family members of the strongest part of the home so when the storm hits they know exactly where to go.


13. Tape up your windows, so if they do shatter, glass won’t fly out everywhere.


14.  Keep all your valuable documents, photos, diapers/nappies, baby formula and a change of warm clothes in water proof container.


Photo : Delfin T. Mallari Jnr (

We were lucky and the full force of the cyclone missed the main part of Manila and it was not as devastating as it could have been. The worst I saw was howling winds and rain and flying debris as well as some flooding. The water did leak through every nook and cranny it could as well and there was plenty of mopping up to do. Overall the main issue was not knowing what to do and the feeling that I had to be doing ‘something’. For me it was not the cyclone hitting I was worried about because I was so far away from the coast, bit more how to survive for a few days to a few weeks if the city wasn’t able to provide basic infrastructure utilities, like electricity and water, and if the shops sold out of food and were unable to restock the shelves. But thankfully that did not eventuate in this case.


Looking at the media reports 77 people died because of the Cyclone. 19 of the fatalities dying from drowning or being hit by flying objects. The other fatalities suffered heart attacks or died after being pinned under fallen trees and collapsed walls.


According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC) 27,874 houses were completely destroyed while 83,498 were partially damaged, and 97,055 families, or 518,764 persons were evacuated.

Video footage from outside 99Boomerangs house in Manila

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