Spared and prepared

Leah Pacle, 46, is an officer of the Tarangnan Organization of Persons with Disabilities. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Leah Pacle, 46, is an officer of the Tarangnan Organization of Persons with Disabilities. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

While Leyte and Eastern Samar bore the brunt of typhoon Haiyan late last year, the island village of Tigdaranao in Tarangnan (Western Samar) endured a fury less intense than expected.

While more than 6,000 people perished elsewhere, everyone was safe in the small island community.

That’s why Leah Pacle’s gratitude rise up to the heavens. A 46-year-old resident and volunteer health worker in Tigdaranao, she is thankful for her town’s wellbeing. But she was saddened by the plight of the people in nearby provinces.

Leah looks on as her son prepares the boat they will use to cross to their island village. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

Leah looks on as her son prepares the boat they will use to cross to their island village. Photo: Daryl Zamora / Handicap International

“Thanks be to God, it was not very strong here,” says Leah, who has an impaired left eye and is the auditor of her town’s organization for people with disabilities. She also does not recall any storm surge happening in her place.

The night before the storm, Leah and others on the island heeded the early warning system implemented by the village leaders. Many residents of Tigdaranao evacuated to a nearby school amid siren wails and an announcement on the impending storm. The island’s authorities were recent participants in a project on inclusive disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) organized by Handicap International and its partners. The village leaders finally put their lessons to good use.

But, of course, Haiyan did not leave Tigdaranao unscathed: many houses needed fixing, and electricity and telecommunications were lost.

Today people in Tarangnan have already recovered from Haiyan and are now preparing for the rainy season, which starts this month. Their experience and good luck last year have proven that indeed preparation is the best response to the threat of typhoons.