Typhoon Bopha


Typhoon Bopha flattened fields and houses in Baganga in Davao Oriental. PHOTO: International Organization for Migration
Typhoon Bopha flattened fields and houses in Baganga in Davao Oriental. PHOTO: International Organization for Migration

On December 4th Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines. It started forming on November 25th, 2012 and according to Daniel Bader of the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University Earth Institute, the storm “underwent rapid intensification (it got worse) just prior to hitting the Philippines.” Typhoon Bopha caused floods and landslides in over 2,000 villages. It killed more than 900 people, and 932 people are still missing. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes. Some homeless families are living in government shelters and others are living in makeshift shelters made from tree bark, plastic, wood and other pieces of houses and buildings left over from the destruction.

Typhoon Bopha will most likely become the second deadliest storm so far in the Philippines. In 1991 Tropical Storm Thelma hit the Philippines and killed 5,000 people; the worst storm so far in the Philippines. Why do typhoons hit the Philippines so often? Bader says that typhoons form over warm ocean waters, and the Philippines are in a likely path for tropical storms. Typhoon Bopha was unique because it hit in a different part of the Philippines than storms usually do. He also said that the storm was “very strong, a Category 5 with winds close to 160 m.p.h.” Bader said typhoons might be stronger than they used to be, but it is hard to tell if climate change affects the typhoons’ force.

Natural factors may also cause stronger storms. Is there any way to stop typhoons? “Unfortunately, there is no way to stop typhoons,” said Bader. “However, there are ways that we can better prepare for the storms and reduce the damage they cause.”

The damage caused by Typhoon Bopha affected not only people and houses, but also farms and banana plantations. The Philippines is the world’s third largest banana grower. Bananas from the Philippines are sent to Japan, South Korea, China, New Zealand and the Middle East. The banana loss does not affect us in the United States, but it affects many other people. It will take many years to grow the banana trees again and to clean up the farmland. Much money has been lost by Typhoon Bopha. Losing fields, trees and farms means that people will not have a way to make a living even after they rebuild their houses. The United Nations is asking countries from all around the world for $65 million dollars to help rebuild the Philippines. Organizations like Oxfam, WorldVision and Mercy Corps are also asking for donations to help people in the Philippines.

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