Two days before the typhoon hit, officials rolled through this city with bullhorns, urging residents to get to higher ground or take refuge in evacuation centers. Warnings were broadcast on state television and radio.

Some left. Some didn’t.

Residents steeled themselves for the high winds, floods and mudslides that routinely come with the typhoons that afflict this tropical nation. But virtually no one was prepared for Typhoon Haiyan’s storm surge, a 6-meter-high (20-foot-high) wall of water headed straight for them.