Category 5 Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines in modern times, and introduced the term "storm surge" to the vocabulary of many local residents, who had not heard about such phenomena prior to this event. The storm surge manifested itself on the 8th November 2013 as Haiyan made landfall, devastating large areas in the islands of Leyte and Samar. To attempt to gain an understanding of the level of awareness that local residents had about storm surges the authors conducted structured questionnaires (n = 172) and focus group interviews with local residents, and discussed the results obtained with key informants (government officers and disaster risk managers). One of the key problems identified during the interviews was how people were not able to clearly understand the concept of a storm surge, with many respondents emphasizing how it would have been better for authorities to describe it as a "tsunami". A discussion is also made on the recent evolution in world-wide coastal disaster awareness, comparing it to recent developments in storm surge awareness in the Philippines and other countries in the area, such as Vietnam and Japan. The authors conclude that, in terms of its influence on world-wide disaster awareness, typhoon Haiyan constitutes an event of similar importance to major recent high-impact tsunami events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Tohoku events. As a result, the authors will outline a number of lessons learnt from Haiyan, such as the necessity for creating multi-layer safety strategies and improving how information about storm surges is transmitted to local residents.
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