We're currently experiencing some of the worst monsoon rains, about 3 days of nonstop crappy weather complete with floods, flashfloods, power interruptions, evacuations, dam releases, terrible visibility, river-like streets and just all-around 'no-this-is-not-more-fun-in-the-Philippines weather.' Thankfully, Filipinos have gotten much better at getting information out and alerting themselves and other people (social media, this is why I love you) and there's a lot of information out there in cyberspace. So much so, that it can be quite hard to figure out what information is important to look at.
So here's my list of the most helpful tried and tested disaster social media information hubs and tips:
Government: @govph, @NDRRMC_OpCen, @dswdserves,
Weather agencies: @dost_pagasa, @PAGASAFFWS (Flood Warning Forecasting), @PanahonNgayon (this is incredibly specific though so take a peek before you decide), @nababaha
Road networks: @mmda (this is undoubtedly the best), @SkywaySOMCO (for the Skyway),
Airlines: for information on delayed or cancelled flights, there's @flyPAL, @cebupacific air.
NGOs: of course, I'd recommend Oxfam's @OxfaminPHL and @OxfaminAsia. I'd also ask you to follow our disaster risk reduction mascot, Cristy SuperPinay, for real-time updates @icommittodrr. I find @philredcross useful at times. Just a caveat that NGOs may talk about what they're doing particularly for a disaster so you can either take it as self-promotion (which to be honest, it can be) but it's also because saying what you're doing for a disaster means that assistance is happening in that particular area. That can tell other groups to direct attention to other areas that haven't reached assistance yet.
#ReliefPH: The Philippines organizes citizen and org relief fairly quickly so hashtag where you're organizing yours or search for the nearest drop-off points to you using this hashtag.
#walangpasok: Heading to school and finding out classes are cancelled after wading through floodwater sucks so find out beforehand. Take note also that various public storm warning signals (PSWS) have automatic suspensions (i.e. PSWS #3 is the strongest and cancels everything, PSWS #2 cancels up to high school and PSWS #1 cancels pre-school).
#floodPH: allows people to tweet photos and information on the flooded areas so you can check it out. I would highly advise you to take a look at these tweets before you get out there!
Twitter and Facebook: of course. These are not just for fun anymore! A lot of good, solid information comes out of this through real time if you know who you're following.
Philippine Star and Inquirer: Both have mobile news apps (but I'd go with the twitter accounts more than these).
MMDA: Do not go out into this low-visibility rain without checking this out.
Project Noah: (see below) gives you weather bulletins through Twitter accounts (such as the ones I've recommended above), enables you to share this information via Facebook and Twitter and does some basic easier to understand map layering (Cycle forecasting, rainfall, probablity of rain, weather outlook).
GrabTaxi: If you get stranded, taxis disappear. Yesterday, we tried this app and it was pretty cool, tagging the nearest cab on a map, giving your location and the number and name of the cab driver. There's an additional fee of PHP 70 on top of the metered fare but with the safety and convenience it ensures, I'd recommend you get this app.
These are all things you can check out for your information but I encourage you to be part of the community sharing information. If you're out, take photos and send out information what places to avoid or where to go. If you're at home, then share share share. While the Philippines is at a standstill dealing with this weather, it's a way for us to stay active and helpful, at the very least.
Keep safe everyone!
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.