Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, a Category 5 Super Typhoon, made landfall on 8 November 2013. It was the strongest storm in history to make landfall, and unofficially the strongest storm ever in recorded history in terms of wind speed. It is also the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killing at least 6,268 people in the Philippines alone, and affecting as many as 11 million people total.
Yolanda’s maximum ten-minute sustained winds were recorded as high as 275 km/h (170 mph), and its one-minute sustained winds were recorded around 315 km/h (195mph) by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre.
The international media has focused greatly on Tacloban City, Philippines, as the area most affected by Yolanda. While there was truly incredible destruction in Tacloban, it is important to note that the storm actually missed the city. What caused the destruction in that area was more from storm surges and mud slides than it was the sustained winds and rain.
However, Bantayan Island, where YPDR is based, was struck by the eye of the storm. At one point, the eye of Yolanda completely surrounded the Island.
Locals on Bantayan have told YPDR’s volunteers and employees stories of living through the storm. They speak about the winds picking up, getting stronger and stronger, until the eye of the storm passed overhead. The trees were swept to one side, the damage was great, and some people were certain the storm had passed entirely by.
When the second half of the storm started, however, the true terror of Yolanda was felt. The nature of a cyclone is that the first half of the storm blows from one direction, whilst the second half blows from the opposite direction. As such, the trees, already strained in one direction by the winds of the first half of Yolanda, started to snap by the sudden force of the wind change, leaving much of the island barren. The wind came in gusts, which meant objects flying overhead were dropping out of the sky regularly. One local told YPDR that he crouched in his bathroom, watching trees and debris flying over his head, and his home was ripped apart to its foundations. He insists that he did not hear a bit of the destruction, the wind was too deafening.
It was lucky that the storm struck Bantayan at low tide, because if it had hit at high tide the coastal areas would have been completely swept away by storm surges. As it was, though, the surges quickly subsided and the coastal areas of Bantayan Island were relatively spared, while the inland areas were particularly devastated. The whole island, though, was 92% destroyed by the storm.
We have made it our mission to do everything we can do fix this.