The Philippines was recently struck by “Super Typhoon” Rai, the strongest typhoon of 2021 to date. The aftermath saw destroyed homes and agricultural lands, and city-wide power outages and water supply disruptions occurred. People lined up for miles to get gas and drinking water. Help couldn’t come fast enough because of difficulties in communication and travel.
In events like this, we realize how dependent we are on technology. Without power and network, we are virtually helpless. To think that humans in ancient times lived like this, we can’t imagine how they survived. But in reality, many people today still live with very limited technology or none. Hence, we are far from helpless without our smartphones and electricity. We need to be more resourceful, a trait that all human beings need to hone, especially in a period of natural disasters.
That said, we don’t need to go primitive after a typhoon. Technology is vital for our survival, just not in the way we always want to. Without power and signal, we have to make do with what we can create from scratch. So here are the available technologies after a typhoon and what they can do:
1. Off-the-grid Power
You don’t even need to experience a typhoon to consider an off-the-grid power source. It’s readily available at any time. The catch is that they can be expensive and require know-how in installing electrical wires.
This particular type of off-the-grid power is a generator. It is a device that converts mechanical energy into electricity. Depending on its size and type, it can power up a single electronic device or a whole house.
The best type of generator for homes is a portable generator or a portable power station. Standby generators are better suited for commercial establishments, but homes, especially big ones, can use them, too. An inverter generator is sometimes considered another type, but it’s a subtype of a portable generator.
To determine the exact type you need, add the wattage of all the electronics and appliances you want to run. Generators should have at least a 5,000-watt capacity. If you only need your refrigerator and HVAC system to run, a portable generator may be good enough for you. If you need to charge your phones and laptops, a portable power station will do.
Standby generators can supply power to a whole house or workplace for a number of hours. To keep them — or other types of generators — running, ensure that they’re always filled with gas or diesel.
2. Renewable Energy
Like wind and solar, renewable energy is also a form of off-the-grid power. But they can be more complicated to set up than generators.
Solar power is generated through the use of solar panels. Thankfully, solar panels are built to withstand winds up to 150 mph and above — the expensive ones, at least. Cheap solar panels may get stripped off the roof during a severe typhoon. The high-quality can also withstand hail storms. A video demonstration by one solar brand showed their panels handling hailstones at 262 mph.
Wind turbines can also survive storms, but only up to a limit. As the wind speed continues to increase, the turbines will keep generating a constant amount of energy. When it reaches the cut-out speed, the turbines will shut down to prevent strain on the rotor.
Though they’re not foolproof, wind and solar energy are blessings during and after a typhoon. Homes and businesses that use them would no longer need to spend time setting up a generator. And speaking of generators, a solar generator is also available.
3. Air Compressors
For businesses dealing with perishable goods, refrigeration is non-negotiable. To keep their goods fresh, they can use a heavy-duty airend compressor for their plants or stores. With a generator or renewable energy source, they can keep the compressors running. An airend compressor uses rotary screws that can withstand a maximum ambient temperature of 40 °C (104 °F). The fans can change in speed, pitch, or size to let more cooling air flow across the cooler pack. It should be frequently monitored by an expert in compressors to maintain proper cooling.
Radio broadcasting is one of the technologies that allowed victims of the 2011 Typhoon Haiyan to get the help they desperately needed. It also played a key role in the Australian Bushfire response. Without an internet connection and access to TV, typhoon-struck cities can turn to radio stations to ask for help and reach out to loved ones. It also lets them communicate the extent of the damage left by the typhoon, allowing news outlets to obtain accurate information.
Thanks to these technologies, we can recover from natural disasters as fast as they will allow us. They don’t necessarily make things easier, but they lift a burden off our backs all the same.