Plan ready to respond to Tropical Storm Mahasen
12 May 2013: So how do you prepare for a cyclone and what exactly do you do?
On Friday afternoon we received a notification through our early alert system that Tropical Storm One (now known locally as Mahasen) had formed in the Indian Ocean and was predicted to make landfall in Myanmar in the middle of the following week. This alert immediately triggered our monitoring system, with the regional disaster risk management (DRM) and communications teams working in close coordination with their counterparts around the world.
Currently, it is a tropical storm predicted to increase strength and become a category 2 cyclone with wind speeds of up to 110 miles per hour.
Winds of change
It is incredibly hard to predict the path and impact of a volatile weather formation like this – they have a habit of changing course and rapidly increasing or decreasing in strength. On Friday, the forecast was that Myanmar was in the cyclone’s path. On Saturday it moved to the area around Chittagong in Bangladesh.
It also looks likely that India will be affected. With the information we have, we are putting all necessary measures in place. Plan is treating Mahasen as a multi-country emergency, primarily covering Bangladesh and Myanmar simultaneously. Both country offices are on high alert.
As the most disaster-prone continent in the world, we have worked hard to ensure that disaster preparedness is a top priority. Asia accounts for more than 60% of all natural-disaster-related deaths. Last year, six of the 10 deadliest disasters were in the region.
Wheels in motion
Today (three days before the expected landfall) we put together our first situation report (Sitrep) on the expected cyclone, its predicted impact and the measures we have put in place. This Yellow Alert (Red being the highest) draws on official information issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who are closely monitoring the situation and have triggered their own preparedness measures.
On the ground, our country office Emergency Response Teams have been activated and will be on standby while staff will be attending coordination meetings and reconnecting with donors. Bangladesh has pre-positioned relief materials in place that will be moved tonight while three staff are on their way to Chittagong.
Deployable staff in the region and around the world have been put on standby while our communications teams are working together to ensure that critical information is flowing.
It might seem like a lot of effort for a disaster that may not eventuate, but this is the nature of disaster response – we simply can't afford to be unprepared.
Matt Crook (Plan web/social media in Asia), email@example.com, +66 812 5785 21
Tony Gomes (Plan Bangladesh communications manager), firstname.lastname@example.org, +88-01713-11-1157, +88-01973-08-2418