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Weathering a Record-Setting Storm

11/12 /2013

Published on Nov 12, 2013

Courtesy of CNN

The Philippines was battered by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded as Typhoon Haiyan slam-dunked the central region. The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, cut a wide swath of death and devastation, affecting as many as 9.8 million people in 40 different provinces.

In the hardest-hit provinces of Leyte and Samar, the loss of life has been horrendous, with as many as 10,000 people feared dead.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has declared a “state of national calamity.”

In particular, Leyte’s provincial capital, with a population of 220,000, has suffered tremendous damage from the super-typhoon which brought winds of up to 195 mph. U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy told AP: “I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house.”

Fears that some 600,000 people may be made into refugees have driven the United Nations Refugee Agency into overdrive as they prepare emergency airlifts. (See links below for info on donating.)

‘The level of destruction we’re seeing reported is absolutely staggering,” said High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

The super typhoon approaches the Philippines on November 7, 2013.
The super typhoon approaches the Philippines on November 7, 2013.

The displaced residents of these provinces must now weather a new storm of drought and famine. Even days after the typhoon struck (a Category 5 storm, the highest and deadliest ranking), supplies have been slow to reach the devastated areas, because roads are blocked, power lines down, and airports incapacitated.  

Military planes and ships from the US and the UK are on their way to the devastated areas but they are in a race against time as threats of famine and disease escalate. 

In what looks like the gravest natural disaster the Philippines has ever suffered, we will continue to keep you updated, though the best source for rapid-fire updates is Twitter, with the hashtags #YolandaPH and

Pope Francis @Pontifex tweeted, “We remember the Philippines, Vietnam and the entire region hit by Typhoon Haiyan. Please be generous with prayers and concrete help.”

Good Samaritans, travelers who have enjoyed that especially warm Filipino hospitality, and philanthropists that wish to make a difference have more than a few options to choose from for donating much-needed funds:  

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has rescue and relief teams on the ground in the affected areas already. You can lend a financial hand by going to the Supertyphoon Yolanda campaign on their donation page.

Overwhelmed by requests to provide assistance, the Filipino consulates abroad have told people to donate through the PRC, the  Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Oxfam America aid teams are already working in the Eastern Visayas region in the Philippines to provide immediate access to water and sanitation materials to stem the tide of possible epidemics. You can back their compassionate campaign by chipping in to their Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Recovery Fund.

On the British Red Cross website at they evaluate all the small but crucial ways your donation could help: “£20 could buy four jerry cans to collect and store clean water; £40 could buy four tarpaulins to help make temporary shelters for those who have been left homeless; £60 could buy six hygiene kits for those who lost everything to prevent the spread of disease.”

From its website the UN Refugee Agency reports that it has “already released supplies from its warehouse and is organizing emergency airlifts to provide shelter, protection and hygiene kits containing items such as plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, soap and underwear.”

Habitat for Humanity is already providing help to 30,000 families with shelter repair kits to rebuild their damaged homes. You can support this work by donating from the Philippines to their Re-Build Philippines Fund or from the US by contributing to their Disaster Response Fund.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF)
have emergency teams in Cebu city with an additional 50 people made up of medical personnel, logisticians and psychologists arriving in the Philippines with tents, supplies of drugs, medical equipment and material to purify water, and other necessities. Teams will monitor possible outbreaks of infectious diseases. They will also send out an inflatable hospital and additional medicines from Bordeaux. Please make a donation online.

Courtesy of UNOCHA

For those searching for family and friends has launched the Typhoon Yolanda Person Finder. The company has also put up a Google crisis map, which shows evacuation centers and areas for relief operations.

On Facebook there is also a page that helps survivors get in touch with their loved ones and exchange reports. "Tacloban (and nearby Waray Towns) Yolanda Update,"

For a powerful photo essay in The Independent click here:


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