Typhoon Hagupit knocked out power, left at least two people dead, and sent nearly 900,000 into shelters before it weakened today, sparing the central Philippines the type of massive devastation that a monster storm brought to the region last year. Shallow floods, damaged shanties, and ripped off store signs and tin roofs were a common sight across the region, but there was no major destruction after Hagupit slammed into Eastern Samar and other island provinces. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 87mph and gusts of 106mph, considerably weaker from its peak power but still a potentially deadly storm, according to forecasters. The typhoon, which made landfall in Eastern Samar late yesterday, was moving slowly, dumping heavy rain that could possibly trigger landslides and flash floods.
Traumatized by the death and destruction from Typhoon Haiyan last year, nearly 900,000 fled to about 1,000 emergency shelters and safer grounds. The government, backed by the 120,000-strong military, had launched massive preparations to attain a zero-casualty target. Rhea Estuna, a 29-year-old mother of one, fled to an evacuation center in Tacloban—the city hardest-hit by Haiyan—and waited as Hagupit's wind and rain lashed the school where she and her family sought refuge. She saw a starkly different aftermath today than the one she witnessed after Haiyan struck. "There were no bodies scattered on the road, no big mounds of debris," Estuna said. "Thanks to God this typhoon wasn't as violent." Nearly a dozen countries, led by the United States and the European Union, have pledged to help in case of a catastrophe from Hagupit. "The Philippines are not alone as they brace up for a possible hardship," the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid said. (Read more typhoon stories.)