Storms are to us just as earthquakes are to Japan. It is too frequent it doesn’t faze us anymore, unless someone says it is a super typhoon. That’s probably why we just decide on calling off school and work on the day of the storm itself, or even after all the people have left home. Such is life here. Not quite like New York City, which got a lot of advance warnings and preparations done before Typhoon Irene hit the city.
Speaking of Irene, I closely monitored this on CNN and was quite surprised that there was just much ado about a storm that was weak by Philippine standards. But that’s probably the difference between the First World and the Third World. There, the sophisticated weather trackers will tell you the exact wind speed, the volume of the rainfall to be expected and the length of time the typhoon will stay. In the First World, you don’t get their people inconvenienced so you shut the city down.
In a “developing country” (a misnomer if you ask me), you won’t know the kind of typhoon you are facing until it hits you. So you leave the house thinking that it is an ordinary typhoon until you see trees and billboard structures crashing down! Because the government does not issue a suspension until the very last minute, college students and hapless employees get caught outside. (See Daphne Osena’s difficult and terrifying journey home during the Milenyo storm in her blog post here).
As for us, in a storm like the one that hit us last Tuesday, you learn to cope by not having to depend on the weather bureau. Instead, you make judgments based on how heavy and how violent the wind is, how loud the pounding on your doors and windows and how low the trees go. You do the most practical thing to do in a situation like that and text blast everyone in the firm to not, absolutely not leave the house.
So that’s how it is dealing with tempests in the Third World. I wonder how New Yorkers would feel about that.