A Textual Processing Model of Risk Communication: Lessons from Typhoon Haiyan

Raul Lejano, Joyce Melcar Tan, Anne Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As the world’s urban poor increase in numbers, they become acutely vulnerable to hazards from extreme weather events. On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the province of Leyte, Philippines, with casualties numbering in the thousands, largely due to the ensuing storm surge that swept the coastal communities. We investigate the role and dynamics of risk communication in these events, specifically examining the organizational processing of text within a complex institutional milieu. We show how the risk communication process failed to convey meaningful information about the predicted storm surge, transmitting and retransmitting the same routine text instead of communicating authentic messages in earnest. The key insight is that, rather than focus solely on the verbatim transmission of a scripted text, risk communication needs to employ various modes of translation and feedback signals across organizational and institutional boundaries. Adaptation will require overcoming organizational rigidities in order to craft proportionate responses to extreme weather events that may lie outside personal and institutional memory. Future work should build upon the textual processing model of risk communication.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Early online date28 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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