Why did warnings fail in Tacloban?
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Tan, Joyce Melcar
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Despite the Philippine weather bureau’s accurate prediction of the strength and movement of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda), as well as the forecast of the storm surge accompanying it, Typhoon Haiyan left at least 6,300 dead, nearly half of them from Leyte’s capital city of Tacloban. This research explores how inadequacies in communicating the risks Typhoon Haiyan posed to communities in a way that people understood, as well as insufficiencies in the consequent responses of those on the ground, magnified the scale of the disaster that ensued. It discusses how problems attributable to the sender, the recipient, the way the message was communicated, and the message itself each influenced how people understood—or misunderstood—the warnings. The responses of four local governments, Tacloban, Ormoc, Javier, and San Francisco, are examined, and then the event itself is scrutinised to learn what accounted for the difference in Tacloban. Thereafter, focusing on Tacloban, organisational routines are examined to determine how inappropriate adherence to them compounded the issue. The insights gained from this research may provide a starting point for improving how hazard and risk information about extreme weather events may be conveyed more effectively to at-risk communities. This may help disaster managers fulfil the broader aim of reducing coastal communities’ vulnerability—and increasing their adaptive capacity—to extreme weather events.