On November 8th, 2013 Hurricane Haiyan ripped through the the Philippines.
This Category 5 storm was one of the strongest ever recorded.
In my blog immediately following the storm, I emphasized the power and destructiveness of storms fueled by changes to our climate. The cost of recovery is the most shocking of the factors that come into play as we attempt to normalize these storm ravaged areas. Superstorm Sandy is still in recovery and the cost is reaching 120 Billion dollars!
The Philippines are unique in that they are located in a major Disaster Zone. Earthquakes, Volcanic Eruptions and Typhoons hit them on a frequent basis. The region that was hardest hit was still recovering from an earthquake and a typhoon from the previous year. Six to eight typhoons hit land on an annual basis! The Philippines are a poor country compared to the Western Nations and many of the outlying communities do not construct buildings with a very strict building code, thus making them more susceptible to being destroyed in a disaster. The recovery costs will probably not reach what Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy have cost, but for the Philippines they will be substantial!
Was it an example of what Climate Change can do to our weather systems or not?
It really doesn’t matter, the fact is that it happened and it was one of the deadliest and destructive storms in Philippine history!
The local population is still struggling to recover.
The infrastructure is still not repaired and even though there are relief agencies and governmental funding available, the magnitude of the damage and complaints of inefficient government and corruption continue.
Missing family members still torment the survivors. Families have been torn apart.
HEWS is an Inter-agency Task Team on Preparedness and Resilience!
HEWS stands for the Humanitarian Early Warning System. While I have not heard of this organization before, it makes perfect sense that an organization like this exists!
HEWSweb is based and depends fundamentally on the early warning information currently made available worldwide through a variety of specialized agencies and institutions. IASC partners include WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, OCHA, ICRC, IFRC, UNHCR, WHO, FAO, WMO, IOM, SCHR. Partnerships with external, non-UN specialized institutions and sources have been or are being established. Among others, this includes the following institutions:
- US Geological Survey
- Dartmouth Flood Observatory
- FAO Locust Watch
- Smithsonian Institution
- Tropical Storm Risk
- Joint Typhoon Warning
- Center National Hurricane
- Center Central Pacific Hurricane Center”
Their partnerships include many of the organizations that are developed to make peoples lives better! The only problem I see may be that “too many cooks spoil the broth”, and that more emphasis should be placed on the reaction time, funding and coordination to make this group more effective!
So What About the Infrastructure?
I read an article of a recent visit by a member of NRECA. NRECA is the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and has worked in partnership with the Philippines for over 50 years!
At the latest NRECA Meeting, Edita S. Bueno is the director of the National Electrification Administration in the Phillipines said that “in the areas served by 33 electric cooperatives, 1.3 million homes were affected; 120,000 of those were wiped out. Four months after the typhoon, Bueno said 20 co-ops have restored power to more than 2,200 of the 5,400 villages hit.”
So How Can You Rebuild Without Electricity?…You can’t.
How Do You Keep Food From Rotting Without Refrigeration?…You don’t.
Read the following links concerning efforts toward the rebuilding of the electric infrastructure.
How Do You Continue Teaching Your Children Without Schools?
Only 3 of 54 schools were not destroyed during Typhoon Haiyan. The few that remained were hoping to open on a limited basis, however most of the teaching materials had been damaged or blown away. Kids were excited just to get the opportunity to return, however there are not enough schools to go around and officials are hoping that some will be rebuilt by the end of 2014!
What Is The Status Of Housing In Tacloban Now?
Commerce is rebuilding slowly, banks and shops are returning to normalcy. However many people are living in temporary houses, unsafe houses and many are still living in shelters. There are an estimated 50,000 people needing housing.
RAY Stands for Reconstruction Assistance in Yolanda
The Philippine government launched an 8.2 Billion, four year plan which will focus on rebuilding areas affected by the typhoon and developing resilience to natural disasters.
This report was developed by the Congressional Research Service in February of 2014. At that time humanitarian assistance was still required in many of the provinces in the Central Philippines. I imagine that a month later as I write this blog, this is still the case!
Let’s hope that the Government is successful in building Resilience into their Nations Infrastructure!
If you are a philantropist, here is a good list of the many organizations that can help in the relief efforts!