WestSouthwest: WMU Georgraphy Professor on disaster relief in the Philippines

Nov 26, 2013

Clean up from the massive typhoon in the Philippines
Credit The Associated Press

Western Michigan University Geography Professor Lisa DeChano-Cook has done extensive research on disaster relief. 

DeChano-Cook says getting food and water to an area hit by a natural disaster are among the challenges to helping people. (NPR stories on Typhoon Haiyan)

Infrastructure is important, but in some cases roads, bridges and other modes of transit have sustained massive damage in a major storm such as a typhoon. DeChano-Cook says military transport is needed when roads aren't available. But in the Philippines, that was a challenge in part because airports could not  be used.  

Tornados recently ripped through the Midwest, but the storm was on a much smaller scale. DeChano-Cook says the U.S. is also better equipped for disaster relief. She says the differences are geography as well as politics and the availability of resources. 

DeChano-Cook says planning is important for disaster relief. But she says a typhoon the size of the one that hit this month in the Philippines is tough to plan for. DeChano-Cook says the geography of the area makes it tough to evacuate on a large-scale. 

Many people will move back to where the typhoon struck. DeChano-Cook says it's costly for some people to leave and find an area less likely to get hit by a typhoon. But she says "sense of place" also describes why some people want to come back. DeChano-Cook says some people leave, but she says there are people who want to stay in the place where they grew up or have made a home.