Five consecutive typhoons struck the Philippines in late October and early November. Still recovering from damages brought about by Typhoon Molave (Quinta), Typhoon Goni (Rolly), Typhoon Atsani (Siony), and Typhoon Etau (Tonyo), the rain-drenched eastern and northern portions of the country endured excarbarated impacts from Typhoon Vamco (Ulysses), the fifth major storm to hit the region in just two weeks.
These typhoons left major roads impassable due to flooding and affected electrical and communication powers. Major dams in the country have reportedly worsened the flooding situations in the downstream areas of Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, the Cordillera Administrative Region and Metro Manila.
In the midst of the massive flooding situation, which paralyzed major thoroughfares and stranded thousands of Filipino commuters, hashtags #FloodPH and #RescuePH trended on social media, with people calling for help and posting information about the flood situation in their area. MapaKalamidad.ph, a recently launched disaster information sharing platform in the Philippines, is harnessing the active use of social media to support community-led risk reduction. Using AI-assisted chatbots to monitor and respond to social media posts, the platform gathers confirmed crowd-sourced reports from residents to map flooding in real-time. The platform experienced a significant increase in activity during Typhoon Ulysses as residents actively shared real-time situational updates about the flood. The free web-based map was used to support residents and disaster management units identify the areas that needed immediate response and rescue efforts. MapaKalamidad.ph was launched last September 2020 as part of the PhilAWARE Program with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (USAID BHA) in partnership with the Philippine Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).