Blog | Making light from the Devastation in Leyte, Philippines

Groundwater Engineering


Making light from the Devastation in Leyte, Philippines

3 January 2014

The world could only watch in utter awe and horror, as Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) hit the central part of the Philippines with maximum wind speed at landfall recorded as 195 miles per hour, and wind gusts of up to 235 miles per hour. Along with this came a surge in sea level of approximately 4 metres. The World Health Organisation disaster classification rated Typhoon Haiyan as Category 5 – which is higher than the Category 3 classification given to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

13 million people have been affected with the death toll estimated at over 4,000. Over a million people have been displaced and left homeless. But after the shock of this catastrophe, there is the question of survival. Towns and cities were left flattened and devastated – with power and communication supplies cut off, and no access to safe drinking water and insufficient food.

Main Road through Cambalading

Main road through Cambalading

For weeks, the hardest hit towns and cities were enveloped in utter darkness. The general feeling of helplessness and isolation became very apparent. Local government made a statement in the days following this devastation, that full power supply is estimated to take up to 3 months to be accomplished.

Groundwater Engineering Inc. (GWE), is the local company of Groundwater Engineering based in Ormoc City, Leyte. Damage there had been extensive, and GWE experienced first-hand the desolation that Typhoon Haiyan brought. The company has, at its foundation, the values of providing a solution that is beneficial to local people. They are backed by decades of industry experience and technical expertise, and are committed to providing safe, technically sound and environmentally sensitive solutions.

GWE successfully installed on the 9th December 2013, a series of solar power street lights in the small town of Cambalading Albuera, Leyte. Solar Photovoltaic (PV) modules make electricity from sunlight, and are marvelously simple, effective, and durable. They sit in the sun and, with no moving parts, can run appliances, charge batteries, or make energy for the utility grid. GWE designs the whole system which includes a solar “generator” via a PV array, and components which make up a Solar Electric System.

Solar powered light at night

Solar Powered Light, Leyte

The Philippines is the most storm-exposed country on Earth, and although Typhoon Haiyan is off the scale with its apocalyptic nature, the Philippines has on average eight or nine tropical storms that make landfall each year. It is with this in mind that GWE guarantees that its solar solutions are both cost-effective and structurally sound.

Amidst the destruction, GWE acted swiftly to ensure that hope is brought back to local people. As a local company, GWE understands the struggles that many people are experiencing. Darkness breeds despair, and GWE aims to change that. The people of Cambalading will not be expecting power to be restored until February 2014. For a town which used to pride itself in its spectacular Christmas street lights, the best it could hope for now is some light in the darkness. This New Year will not be the same for the people there, but despite this, GWE has ensured that darkness does not prevail, especially starting the New Year.