BY: ANTHONY SEMENTILLI
From November 6th to the 10th, the sun never shined in the Philippines.
With clouds spanning over 1000 miles and winds reaching speeds as high as 190 mph, Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Hurricane Yolanda, unleashed a destruction that affected approximately 4.3 million lives.
Unfortunately, the storm didn’t subside after it hit the Philippines. Damages have been reported in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and an assortment of small island nations in the Pacific. This category 5 super typhoon was one of the deadliest natural disasters recorded in meteorological history, and the most brutal to strike the Philippines, which endured the brunt of the tempest.
The first winds and surges hit the island of Samar in the Eastern Visayas region at 4:30 A.M. From there, the storm was relentless, ripping through the rest of the central islands, around 41 provinces, with a magnitude approximately 3.5 times larger than the forces of Hurricane Katrina.
Several areas endured 50 foot storm surges and island-wide blackouts; trees were reduced to splinters, and homes were ripped apart from the gales. “The rain was being pushed almost at, you know, a 100-degree angle right in front of your house,” said Chris Ducker, a victim interviewed by CNN. While the damage is still being assessed, officials predict that certain islands won’t be habitable until months of reconstruction have passed. The statistics project such costs could amount to six billion dollars.
One of the hardest hit areas of the Philippines was the city of Tacloban. According to Brigadier General Paul Kennedy, not “a single structure is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way.” Over 90 percent of the infrastructure is ruined, including the Daniel Z. Romuladaz Airport, which served as an improvised shelter for the survivors. It re-opened this month to a limited capacity, only scheduling certain aircraft models, like the A320s, which are used in commercial flights.
Hurricane Haiyan’s destruction was not entirely environmental. Food, water, and medicine have been scarce, and panic is proving to be the largest demon plaguing the storm victims. Mobs have lynched numerous public officials, anarchy and looting are further destabilizing society, and the Philippines has declared itself to be in a State of National Calamity.
In a feat of global solidarity, over 20 countries and counting have generously offered supplies, aid, and humanitarian relief to the victims of the typhoon throughout this time of strife. Thankfully, the SJC American Red Cross Club has contributed to these efforts. If you want to help, too, then contact their email posted below and they will happily fill you in on ways to contribute.