land of typhoons
Every year, 20 typhoons pay a visit to the Philippines. In their wake, they leave towns and cities bursting at the seams with flood water that residents must wade though in order to get to their jobs and homes.

This is what residents of Quezon City had to deal with again as Typhoon Rammasun hit. The numbers were huge: 12,000 people were displaced, 38 people were killed when Rammasun hit this land of typhoons and at least eight were missing shortly after the storm.

People’s homes, 19,000 in all, were left damaged.

Meanwhile, in the town of Noveleta, people braced against 185 mph wilds. The typhoon cut across Luzon, shutting down the capital and leaving a trail of blackouts and ravaged trees as it passed.

Then it set course for Southern China.

Before the storm had even reached the country, China was already feeling its effects. Heavy landslides and rainfall killed 45 people before the full brunt of the storm could even be felt. Torn-apart power lines plunged the region into darkness, and 21 people went missing. China prepared for the oncoming 140-kilometer-per-hour winds that had yet to come.

For the Philippines, the aftermath of Rammasun serves as a bad memory of the destruction caused last November by Typhoon Haiyan. The November storm killed over 5,000 people and left more than 1,600 missing, surging the ocean into massive, tsunami-like waves that surged onto land.

Unidentified bodies found resting places in mass graves.

But the problems weren’t buried with the Philippines’ dead. More than one million people have been left financially devastated with the destruction of 33 million coconut trees across the country. The trees, which will take eight to 10 years to grow back, served as the livelihood of poor Filipino farmers.

Sixty percent of farmers in the Philippines were already impoverished, and the November blow Haiyan delivered made their situation desperate.

Farmers weren’t the only group affected; with 30,000 boats destroyed in Haiyan’s massive waves, the livelihoods of poor fishermen were also at stake. They now face relocation in regions far from the coast, preventing them from returning to their trade even with the restoration of their fishing vessels.

With Rammasun’s latest rampage, the farmers and fishermen of the Philippines are now in serious need of aid.

– Rachel Davis

Sources: CBC News 1, CBC News 2, Oxfam
Photo: The Australian

haiyan philippines
Eight months after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of the Central Philippines, villages are recovering, but not quickly. Many in the post-Haiyan Philippines are still displaced and lack proper protection for 2014’s Pacific typhoon season.

The storm was a category five, the highest a typhoon can be rated, and was one of the most intense in recorded history. It affected 12.9 million people, 13 percent of the country’s population, killing almost 5,000 of them. With 1.9 people left homeless and 2.5 million in need of food, there was a great necessity for emergency response. The response, for the most part, was met with great success, but just because the Philippines met its goal of immediate clean water, food, sanitation and temporary shelters, does not mean that the problem has been dealt with.

The situation in the post-Haiyan Philippines is all too familiar. As with most natural disasters, there is a period of time after they happen during which the world takes a special interest in the plight of those affected. Foreign aid and donations pour in from all across the globe, helping to supply emergency food and water as well as preventing the outbreak of disease and any breakdown in law and order. All of these efforts were successful in the Philippines, but then the story faded out of the news and soon enough people began to focus less and less on the conditions of the Filipinos, and the physical rebuilding of villages has been slow.

So far, fewer than 150 new permanent homes have been built out of a necessary 200,000. Many people are living on the streets, in temporary shelters that do not meet the safety requirements put in place by the government in order to withstand high winds, heavy rain and flooding. Many Filipinos have expressed anger at their government for not speeding up the resettlement process. One man, Toto Andrada, told CNN that, “the money is here–it’s just taking so long for the government to release it. Why?”

A big reason why has to do with bureaucracy for the government’s Building Back Better plan. The new homes being built have to meet more conditions than ever before, including the building’s infrastructure has well as the land it is built on. Meeting these new conditions has proved time consuming, at the expense of current living conditions.

A report by the United Nations labor agency has found that the number of children involved in dangerous manual labor has increased in 39 percent of 112 surveyed villages since the typhoon hit. This increase in child labor is likely the result of families being ripped apart by the storm, as well as higher rates of poverty. Often, when families need money desperately, parents will resort to removing their children from school and enlisting them in the work force.

The slow recovery may even prove disastrous, as those who were displaced by typhoon Haiyan are at a greater risk should the Philippines be hit by another typhoon. Unfortunately, recent weather reports are siting typhoon Neoguri as the latest threat. Neoguri is expected to develop into a super typhoon, just like Haiyan was, and could prove damaging to the northern Philippines, although the blunt force of the storm is expected to impact Japan’s island of Okinawa more than anywhere else.

Neoguri is the first super typhoon of 2014, but more storms are expected to impact the area throughout the summer and into autumn.

– Taylor Lovett

Sources: CNN 1, CNN 2, Huffington Post, Relief Web
Photo: The Sunday Morning Herald

Disasters not only pose a humanitarian disruption, but also a developmental challenge. Among the destruction, displacement and chaos, it can often be difficult for development and relief agencies to efficiently disburse aid. Typhoons like Haiyan are especially difficult, as the scope of the damage done is still unknown.

A report by the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition named the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as one of the worst disasters in terms of international response. Relief agencies showed the greatest weakness in understanding cultural complexities, catering to the local context and working with local communities and organizations, states the development agency called Devex.

Luckily, Haiyan respondents have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes. Roger Yates of Plan International presents his list of 10 tips for NGOs engaging in disaster response, many of which focus on a piqued awareness of local context. His recommendations, as reported in Devex, are as follows:

1.  Focus on priorities.

There is too much to do at once, so it is crucial to start with the most pertinent tasks and work from there. Flexibility is also important, as priorities may change as the situation develops and circumstances change.

2. Understand the role of the military and government.

It is important for NGOs to understand how the military will contribute to relief efforts, such as transportation and security oversight. NGOs should provide complementary assistance, but not override governmental directives.

3. Work with local elected officials and other community leaders.

Locals will have a valued knowledge of the disaster location. NGOs should work closely with grassroots organizations and community leaders to tailor their relief efforts.

4. Keep the public in affected communities informed.

NGOs should disburse messages concerning when and where to receive aid, public health information and notices concerning missing persons. TV, radio and notice boards are all good resources.

5. Work collaboratively, not independently.

NGOs are only one part of an international effort and must behave in this manor. Other actors will bring a diverse set of skills that can be utilized in conjunction with NGOs.

6. Go the extra mile;find the most vulnerable and worst affected people.

Disadvantaged groups, such as women and young girls, will need a special set of needs which may require more effort on behalf of relief agencies.

7. Don’t underestimate the importance of mental health.

Disasters create mass amounts of trauma. NGOs must work with individuals to reduce stressors and provide mutual support.

8. Support local markets and move to cash transfers as soon as possible.

NGOs should work to support local markets and reinstate stability. Purchasing local goods and giving money directly through cash transfers will help to restart the economy.

9. Build up two-way communication with the local public.

NGOs must be transparent about their efforts and utilize media outlets to communicate with both the local population and other agencies. Also, NGOs should welcome feedback from the local community.

10. Building permanent houses is difficult.

It may take many years before it is possible to construct quality permanent houses, but it is better to keep temporary housing than to hastily rush into building permanent structures. NGOs must be patient and accurately assess the situation before moving forward.

Plan International operates in more than 50 countries worldwide to promote children’s rights and alleviate poverty.  The organization has already raised more than $13 million to Haiyan relief and has several programs at work on the ground in the Philippines.

– Mallory Thayer

Sources: Plan International, Devex
Photo: Coloribus

Typhoon Aid Workers Hope to Restore Vital Water Sources
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most destructive natural disasters to date, has created a world of devastation and chaos in the Philippines. According to emergency aid workers, “massive storm surge and high winds devastated the country.” As a result, aid workers have launched a campaign to help the Philippines restore their vital water resources. Their quick action will prevent further disease and dehydration.

According to reports, international health officials have planned “to help the estimated 9.6 million people affected by the record storm that struck the region Saturday, wrecking the already-fragile water system and raising the risk of water-borne diseases such as dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever”.  Holly Few, a spokeswoman for the agency, has stressed that the need for water has to be addressed. “We need to get people into shelter and get them clean water and food,” she said.

Doctors stationed in the Philippines say they’ve already seen life-threatening cases of dehydration and have further stressed that the youngest and oldest citizens are at high risk of dehydration. Moreover, the lack of potable water has driven people to boil water. Despite this, doctors have stated that there is a growing worry of a possible dysentery outbreak if clean water initiatives are not launched as soon as possible.

Dr. Francis Visto, a doctor helping in the Philippines, has reported that there have been cases of “severely dehydrated children from dysentery.” Moreover, the typhoon has made it difficult for doctors to obtain access to medical tools and technology, as well as electricity. “In addition to clean water, medical workers need basic supplies and electricity,” said Dr. Visto.

In order to solve the water problem, “Officials are working to install 20,000-gallon tanks in three central locations in Eastern Samar, Cebu, and Leyte, 30 minutes outside Tacloban City. The water will be chlorinated and sent through local pipes for public use,” Tata Abella-Bolo, a project manager for OxFam International, explained. Those involved in the effort hope to aid those displaced by the storm, especially since, according to the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the storm displaced more than 615,000 people. The aid workers further hope to solve the nationwide problem as soon as possible. Additionally, shipments of rice and water have been sent out from various nations such as Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States.

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: NBC News, CBS News
Photo: DW

Typhoon Haiyan, thought to be the most powerful storm to hit the country, has left a large portion of the Philippines in rubble. The military has thus far confirmed that approximately 1,200 people have died and over 300 are missing.

The Philippines have essentially been compared to being hit by a train with the antagonist being Haiyan, with winds clocking up to 305 km/h. The typhoon has affected at least 9 million people, and many sources estimate the total death toll to be over 10,000.

In light of this situation, multiple relief programs are being put into action by various governments.

The Canadian government has already announced it’s aid packages for the Philippines: a new fund will be implemented in Ottawa that will match the money donated by individual Canadians to typhoon relief during the next month up to $5-million worth of assistance. In fact, members of Canada’s Assistance Response Team are being sent to the Philippines. This team, known as DART, was last deployed following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Meanwhile, aid is arriving from all corners of the globe.  Australia has promised $9-million, New Zealand $1-million, the UN $25 million, the EU $4 million, and $16 million from Britain.

US navy ships, marines, and airplanes have all been deployed to aid in the relief effort, and the Pentagon has ordered more Marines from Japan to join the relief effort. Furthermore, assault ships have been sent to the region, bringing food and supplies, though a more important aspect, however, is their ability to convert sea water into potable water.

The effects of Haiyan are enormous. The city of Guiuan is believed to have been completely destroyed, though the region of Tacloban, with a population of 218,00, was hardest hit. Here, the dead litter the streets, and 10,000 are determined to have perished. The survivors are left in grim conditions with no running water, food, or electricity remaining, and families, torn apart, desperately seek their missing loved ones.

The survivors are left starving, raiding and pillaging, and convoys are often forced back by crowds searching for food.  Shop owners are consequently forced to defend their goods with deadly force.

An estimated 2 million people are currently starving.

Local media has reported that a state of calamity has been declared in Tacloban, and President Benigno Aquino is considering declaring a state of emergency. This entails curfews, price controls, and heavy military control.

Aquino has declared that he believes the initial death toll projection of 10,000 to be “too much” and estimates the final count to fall more around 2,000 to 5,000.

More than 580,000 people in the Philippines have been displaced, and a total of 286,000 people are being housed in less than 1,000 evacuation centers.

The pace of relief to some of the hardest hit areas was difficult to maintain because as Aquino has stated, “in Tacloban, only 20 of 290 police were available when disaster struck; many were tending to their own families.”

Haiyan, now classified as a Tropical Storm, was able to incur such a magnitude of damage because of a combination of low pressure, powerful winds, and heavy rainfall. This power has continued on in Vietnam where 13 people have been killed, and at least 900,000 evacuated. China is currently on high alert.

Donations can be made through The Canadian Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières and World Food Programme.

Chloe Nevitt
Feature Writer

Sources: The Globe and Mail, CNN, BBC
Photo: Global Post

New reports from the Philippines indicate in upwards of 11.8 million Filipinos were directly affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, 921,000 of which have been displaced from their residence. The death toll has been rising daily, with more confirmed deaths coming as cities and towns begin restoration. According to The Weather Channel, the death toll has reached 4,460 people.

That figure is expected to rise when more reports are obtained from other areas in the Philippines.

Tacloban, capital of one of the hardest-hit provinces, Leyte, has been experiencing great complications in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Thousands of people have rushed to the damaged airport in hopes of leaving the destruction, desperate to receive treatment at a makeshift post-disaster medical center situated there. Reaching other areas of need has become a major concern, since the lack of fuel in Tacloban has prevented trucks to move the aid from the airport into the city perimeters of Tacloban.

The weather has also negated progress in the restoration efforts. Torrential downpours of rain are frequent in many of the most heavily impacted areas, therefore halting the aid workers from reaching many affected areas.

After the onslaught Super Typhoon Haiyan rained upon the Philippines, aid workers from organizations across the world have flocked to provide assistance. Workers from American Red Cross, Philippine Red Cross, CARE, UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), International Rescue Committee (IRC), and other large aid organizations have been providing support for the Philippines.

These organizations require any help they can receive from donations to make a difference in the Philippines. The Filipino death toll is up 2,000 from the previous day; in fact, the carnage and wreckage caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan is expected to be felt for years to come. In spite of this bleak vision of the future, the aid provided by these organizations will continually stabilize the country after the traumatic events of the super typhoon.

– Zachary Wright

Sources: CBS, CARE, Red Cross, NBC: How to Help, NBC: Typhoon Death Toll
Photo: The Atlantic

It has been one week since Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped through the Philippines leaving whole villages flattened and washing large ships ashore. In Tacloban, a city of 220,000, bodies litter the streets and float in the water. Smaller coastal towns and islands such as Cebu and Panay have also been affected. NBC news reports that 56, 000 homes have been destroyed on the island of Panay alone. Officials from both World Vision and Oxfam report that northern Cebu has been almost completely decimated.

While the official death toll is stood at 942 on Monday evening it is far too soon to tell the true extent of the damage. Aid officials estimate as many as 10, 000 may be dead, especially since some communities have not yet been reached or heard from. However, at least 9.7 million people in 41 provinces have been affected.

Troops and aid organizations are beginning to make their way to the Philippines to bring food, water, and medical supplies. CNN reports that the U.N. and U.S. civilian disaster assessment teams arrived this past Monday while U.S. Marines equipped the Tacloban airport with essential gear so that flights may be able to come in and out of the city.  However, government and relief organizations are having a difficult time entering affected areas due to the mass of civilians attempting to flee in cars and on foot, the large amounts of debris and scattered bodies in the streets. With such obstacles to contend with, trucks end up taking six hours to travel the 14 miles from the airport to the city if Tacloban.

The immediate need is to provide injured survivors with medical care. In the only hospital in Tacloban, where injured patients presently wait in hallways to be seen by doctors, there is  not enough clean water and an abundance of sanitation issues. NBC has even disclosed that cases of Dysentery, an inflammatory disease of the intestines that is caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites are being to be reported. Despite the fact that Dysentery is common in the developing world, it can be deadly during a natural disaster. The area’s infrastructure has been severely compromised; there is no water flowing from pumps or plumbing, people are very thirsty and a number of people are boiling the water they find.

Providing civilians with food, water, and shelter is also pressing matter. USAID has sent enough food rations to feed 15, 000 adults and 20, 000 children for 5 days along with emergency shelter materials for 15, 000 people. These supplies, however, are not expected to reach Tacloban until later this week.  In the meantime, people have turned to raiding stores and warehouses for their necessities while soldiers and police officers clutter the streets with patrols in an attempt to enforce a curfew to stop the looting. Regardless, supplies in retail stores and warehouses are diminishing, as seen by a couple of emptied rice and noodle warehouses. Civilians throughout the Philippines are now in desperate need of aid.

– Lisa Toole
Sources: CNN, Chicago Tribute, NBC, USA Today, Washington Post
Photo: The Guardian

On November 9, super typhoon Haiyan stormed the Philippine islands, leaving a devastating path of destruction in its wake which affected approximately 9.7 million people in 41 provinces. Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most powerful typhoons recorded in history and probably the deadliest, most destructive natural disaster to ever hit the Philippines. Monstrous waves and harsh winds close to 150 mph ravaged the country, destroying almost every structure, killing thousands, and leaving survivors homeless, hungry and often wounded or sick.

Though the current death toll of Typhoon Haiyan is approximately 10,000 people, this number is expected to rise as rescue crews investigate areas demolished by the storm. Bodies have been found scattered about many islands, making it impossible to walk around the affected areas without a nose mask because of the incredible, nausea-inducing smell. In various parts of the country, ninety percent of the housing structures have been demolished. Furthermore, an estimated 660,000 Filipinos are homeless, many of them crowded in shelters with food and water growing scarce. Many cities affected by the storm are facing issues concerning basic electricity and clean water resources. For example, Tacloban, a city that housed 200,000 people has become completely ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan, its residents settling to drink unclean water in order to survive.

The Philippine government recently reported that 2.5 million people are in need of food aid, 300,000 of whom are pregnant women and new mothers. Messages that read “Help Us” have been spotted by rescue planes as thousands of people implore the help of the world for food, water and medicine. This desperation has caused turmoil in certain parts across the Philippines as survivors have tried to storm shops for food and other necessities. Moreover, droves of people are attempting to leave the areas most affected by the storm, creating major congestion in the roads.

Threats of landslides and flash flooding still remain, adding another source of stress to the already chaotic and desperate climate of the country. While food aid has been making its way to the Philippines, the shipments have been heavily guarded by police force, which further clogs areas already crowded with people. In the days following the storm, search crews will continue to investigate the wreckage, more and more arrangements will be made to help survivors, and government officials will proceed to plan a course of action in the aftermath of Haiyan’s horrific destruction.

– Chante Owens

Sources: The Week, CNN, USA Today
Photo: Business Insider

With what has been dubbed as the “Super Typhoon Yolanda”–or the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) corresponding name Haiyan–currently raging in full blow across the Philippines, the whole world is once again faced with the destructive nature of natural disasters. Haiyan is expected to be the strongest and most destructive typhoon ever seen; although no small matter, typhoons are not all that uncommon in a place like the Philippines. Following is a list the five most devastating typhoons to have occurred in the Philippines, and how much damage each caused respectively:

1. Ruping [Mike]: 17th of all tropical cyclones to have hit Philippines in 1990, and is considered to be the deadliest typhoon of the 1990 Pacific typhoon season. This typhoon cost the country nearly $26 million in infrastructure damages and a whopping $197 million for agricultural costs; including destruction of private property, the total damages came to over $251 million.

2. Rosing [Angela]: 14th of all tropical cyclones in 1995, hit Philippines on the morning of Halloween day that year and remained active until November 4. Total damages caused accounted for$250 million, having a devastating effect on the economy. At the time, the typhoon was said to be the strongest to have hit the Philippines in the past twenty-five years.

3. Kadiang [Flo]: 22nd tropical cyclone of 1993. Merged with another typhoon “Dinang” during its course of destruction and making a loop before finally coming to an end four days after starting. Total damages add up to nearly $203 million – thus earning it the ranking of the costliest typhoon at the time of the event.

4. Loleng [Babs]: the 9th of tropical cyclones in 1998. This hurricane remained active between October 15 and 25, making it by far the longest-ranging one on this list. Total fiscal damages from this typhoon added up to USD $157 million, destroying the rice and coconut harvest and further budging the already poor economy.

5. Milenyo [Xangsane]: 13th tropical cyclone of 2003; caused $153 million in property damages.

If the predictions hold true about Haiyan, people may see far more devastating damages to the economy of the Philippines in the nearest future. Witnessing such staggering effects of natural disasters in other countries as well as in the U.S. should serve as a stern reminder to appreciate what we have and to help those who need it the most. Right now, the Super Typhoon seems like it is there to stay; citizens must await its end and hope for the best outcome for all those affected, providing support where possible.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: CNN
Photo: AccuWeather