On Wednesday, November 18, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity over the entire Luzon island group after three successive typhoons caused substantial damage across the region. The declaration allows for local governments to access response funds to expedite relief and rehabilitation efforts in their respective areas. It also imposes price controls on basic goods and commodities in affected areas.
Residual disruptions to communications, utilities, businesses, and transport are expected to continue across Luzon in the medium term as the response efforts continue.
Typhoon Ulysses (international name Vamco) was the latest of three major typhoons to strike the Philippines in less than a month. The storm passed over central Luzon on November 11 and caused flooding across much of the region. More than 2.7 million people were affected, with 67 fatalities reported and 569,047 displaced. More than 40,000 homes were damaged and large areas of agricultural land were destroyed. Ulysses was preceded by two other major storms. Super Typhoon Rolly (international name Goni) made landfall in Catanduanes Island on October 31 before traveling across Luzon. The typhoon caused at least 25 deaths, 339 injuries and affected over 1.6 million people in six different regions. Typhoon Quinta (international name Molave) struck the central Philippines on October 25, causing 27 deaths, 40 injuries, and displacing 120,000 people.
Tropical depressions, storms, and typhoons typically hit Eastern Visayas as well as Southern, Central, and Northern Luzon during the typhoon season between June and November. However, a number of storm systems in the past years have also affected Central and Western Visayas, as well as eastern, northern, central, and western Mindanao, and have reached the country outside the typhoon season. Local meteorologists attribute these changes to climate change. In general, approximately 19 storms and typhoons enter the country's area of responsibility every year, and PAGASA reports that at least six weather systems make a direct landfall. These storm systems have the potential to unleash heavy downpours and powerful winds, as well as trigger a major storm surge that pose considerable hazards to human life and infrastructure. Despite a credible risk, the Philippines has inadequate preparedness and crisis response that increases the impact of storm systems on human communities, strategic infrastructure as well as travel and service delivery.
Those in affected areas are advised to anticipate transportation disruptions, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
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