The great thing about the Philippines for early retired budget travelers like us is the tropical climate. Long gone are the winters with snow and ice as we worked outside and overnights. The not-so-great thing: severe storms. As I write this, we are waiting for Typhoon Odette in Malay Municipality in Aklan Province in the Western Visaya region of this island nation. It should be here night after next.
Waiting for Typhoon Odette
The latest storm track has the eye going closer to Iloilo City, which is on the southern part of Panay Island. I was just there last week on my first solo trip to a big city in a long time. Malay is at the northwestern tip of Panay.
Odette is, as of now, the equivalent of a Category 1 storm, but she’s expected to strengthen to a Category 2, at least. Her span is about 400 kilometers. From where we are, Iloilo City is 225 kilometers by road, probably 175 the way the crow flies.
Preps for Typhoon Odette
So what does one do in preparation for a Category 2 typhoon in a rural area of a developing country in a pandemic? Common sense tasks. The basics for us renters: charge all devices, ready buckets of water, make sure the flashlights are ready to go, and have extra towels to sop up torrential rain that will inevitably seep in.
The last severe storm to hit this area was in December 2019. At that time, we were an hour north of Cebu City with Theo’s mom Diane. It was not that bad in Cebu. Minor flooding, no long power loss. But Malay, Aklan took a direct hit. There was a lot of damage. The power was out one month is some places, two months in others.
We are used to power outages. It’s a common occurrence in this rural area of this developing nation. We are also used to water disruptions. The water is pumped in from the nearby Nabaoy River. When there are torrential rains from regular severe thunderstorms, the river swells with earthy wash and comes out of the pipes with dirt.
So, I’ve poured enough water in buckets to last us a week if we had to really stretch it. Some are pictured below.
Most containers have a bit of bleach to keep mosquitoes from breeding. If it turns out we don’t need it, we will still use it for washing dishes, laundry, and bucket flushes.
Drinking water, by the way, isn’t pictured. That is purified in jugs delivered to the Hangout.
Locals prep for Typhoon Odette
Locals take steps to protect their properties while waiting for Typhoon Odette. Fishing boats are pulled in as far as possible (picture at the top of this page). People have tied down their roofs with rope (pictured below), they’ve removed store signs, cut down long tree branches. For the last two days, I’ve heard lots of chainsaws.
Overkill? Especially since the likely Category 2 eye is not projected to hit us? I don’t think so.
Many structures here are not built like they are in the United States of America. People are worried about losing their roofs because it happens all the time, even in weaker typhoons.
Another local problem is flooding. Torrential rain from Odette is forecast to coincide with high tide the night before the full moon. A local friend told me the worst flood she’s seen in this area was from a typhoon in 2006, with basically the same setup as Odette.
Rice fields lay between the beach and the mountains in Malay. Flooded rice fields would devastate crops – so let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
The good news about the floods is that once high tide is over, my friend says it quickly drains.
Our saving grace while waiting for Typhoon Odette is the Amihan monsoon season. The wind is strong from the northeast, and it’s keeping Odette further south.
In fact, I’ve been so enjoying the cooler weather from the cooler northeast wind it’s actually been delightful. I can walk around and ride by bike without dripping with sweat.
By January, the Amihan winds will have died down, and the main storm season will have passed. Another year gone in the Philippines as we ride out this pandemic and plot our next move.
We’re not in a huge rush. January, February, and March are the nicest months of the year in this part of the world. It’s even nicer when there is electricity and clean running water.
Here’s hoping for the best.
As always, be grateful and generous, happy trails and more serenity.
Life is Now.
Thanks for reading, “Waiting for Typhoon Odette in Malay, Aklan.”
Other posts about weather in the Philippines: