The Philippines is preparing for the supertyphoon Durian , the eighteenth typhoon to hit the islands this year and the third to pass the Metro Manila region in the last two months.

In Manila , they are preparing by shutting down the schools and removing the billboards in preparation for the typhoon, which is estimated to pass south of the city tonight.

Falling billboard debris caused damage during the last typhoon in Manila, and officials are warning companies to remove them without waiting for a government edict.

Here in north central Luzon , however, the danger is mudslides from illegal logging, and floods.
The winds can damage roofs, flying debris injure pedestrians, and the rain and flooding can damage local structures. Travel becomes difficult as the major paved roads become flooded, and the dirt/gravel roads may become impassable.

So for those of us living inland, the main danger is not just the winds, but the rain. Another problem is that the wires are blown down, so the electricity goes off. Indeed, in some rural villages south of Manila, electricity still hasn’t been restored since the last typhoon two weeks ago. Richer families and businesses have their own generators and pumps to obtain well water, but for most people in smaller villages, it means back to using lanterns and candles, and carrying water in from the neighbor’s well.

The good news is that most of the rice has been harvested.

In late October, typhoon Cimaron (Paeng) caused extensive damage to the ripening rice crop, resulting in loss to local farmers. Then in mid November, typhoon Cheibi (Queenie) caused flash floods and high water levels destroyed more fields in the middle of the rice harvest. Although the rice is now harvested, the rains have made it difficult for farmers to dry their own rice, a procedure that is done by laying the rice on a concrete road or on a plastic tarpon in one’s yard, and turning it over in the hot sun to remove extra moisture so it can be stored. The alternative is to have the rice merchants dry the rice, at a small fee. For the poor independent farmers, the combination of a poor harvest and paying extra fees to dry their rice is a major hardship. The rice board is,however, paying more for rice this year, which should make up for some of the loses.

So right now we are taking the advice of local officials : “trim down the branches of big trees to minimize resistance to strong winds to prevent accidents, store enough food in your homes, and secure your roofs.”

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband and extended family. Her blog is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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