The Hurricane on Steroids
We were all warned. It is going to be a super typhoon. It is expected to be the strongest in recorded history. Everything from the amount of rainfall, possible flood areas, storm surges, wind direction, paths but the colour of raindrops were predicted. It’s been classified as a Category 5 Hurricane if it was in the Atlantic. All extremes. Beyond the scales. It was called Haiyan. Local name Yolanda (I still don’t understand why we have to have a local name for typhoons).
Truth be told this is the most prepared we have been. Everyone was tuned in to news alerts. Schools were suspended as early as two days before it arrived in the Philippine area of responsibility. Evacuations were done in advance. Government sectors prepped for rescue missions. Local television were all about warnings and reminders on survival methods. Prayers were called. The international media started sending their correspondents in areas suspected to be hardest hit.
The First 24 hours
Friday came. It made landfall into areas as predicted. Manila only experienced rains. All sighs of relief. We get intermittent news tidbits on the areas hit while it was going on. Roaring winds. Floods rising. All expected results. All we could hope is they hang on until it goes away and then we can start sending in the help.
Saturday morning, I started calling and sending messages to my friends in Boracay Island, Cebu, Bohol and honestly anywhere the typhoon has passed that I have friends. All can not be reached. You can feel the eerie quietness around. Well, at least until satellite phones starting ringing the news headquarters. Then and only then it slowly dawned on us the magnitude of what happened.
Power lines were down. Mobile phone networks which is the main form of communication these days were down. Roads and bridges were all destroyed. Then the photos started coming in… Trees uprooted, houses and buildings collapsed, towns were leveled, communities were washed away and scores of people walking around dazed and confused. It was all too shocking. News organizations around the world hit the jackpot – this will be massive news.
48 Hours In...
It was evident that the situation is worse than expected.. Many areas are not accessible at all. Many of those who survived were without food and potable water for days now. Relatives were missing. Dead bodies lying all over the place. Panic has set in. Looting of food, water, clothing, medicine, and what have you has began out of desperation. All you need to do is turn on the TV on any channel and we are the news. Every reporter and their bad pronunciation of locations has turned up in the country. You have to be living under a rock not to be aware of what has happened. Or in the case of some people here, no power, no mobile signal and no internet.
Images of helpless victims, anguished relatives trying to find their love ones, hungry survivors with their dead nearby started flooding the news, the internet and social media. It was a hurricane and tsunami that hit the Philippines in a single blow. It was beyond what we prepared for. Those who anticipated the strong winds for example ended up getting washed away when waters gushed into the ground floors of houses, buildings and even evacuation centers.
By Sunday, all concerned government agencies started mobilizing. Well, everyone started mobilizing – private entities, international and local aid groups, foreign governments, heck the whole planet was trying to do their best to send help to those who survived. The need was immediate, difficult and massive.
Me and my friends ran to the grocery store and brought boxes of bottled water and dumped it to the Philippine Red Cross headquarters. Then we started pooling money out of our pockets.
Standing Back Up
At the moment, all help is concentrated in keeping the living alive, burying the dead and cleaning up the debris. Then it becomes a massive effort to resurrect the local seats of government, basic necessities and infrastructure and well, a semblance of normalcy. It will take years to rebuild. We may be a strong and resilient nation but we need all the help that we can.
We Need More Help
My friends and I have started an online fund raising campaign. The initial wave is for helping out in giving much needed supplies.
What we need to buy:
- Ready-to-eat food
- Rice for when they are able to build a fire for cooking
- Drinking water
- Basic medicine
Areas we are targeting for distribution:
- Outlying communities surrounding Boracay that were heavily affected.
Why these areas? It is something close to our hearts. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you would know that I always talk about the island of Boracay. We love Boracay. It has given us much happiness and sunshine and friendship. Luckily while Boracay was heavily hit, the damage is sustainable. It is still without power, internet and phone signals mind you but the people there are coping. In fact even without power and internet my friends are organizing their own fund raising campaigns.
Another reason is that it is not in the news. Most news coverage are focused in Tacloban, other places in Leyte, Bohol, Samar and Cebu. We don’t get much coverage from Palawan, Panay and Negros and northern Mindanao. Based on reports from friends, the areas I’ve listed have sustained heavy damages and there are communities that need help as well.
I don’t do emotional blackmail. I also chose not to post heartbreaking photos because I want to give some dignity to the victims. CNN, BBC and other major news networks will take care of that. However I am pleading to anyone who will stumble into this article to check out the sites HERE and HERE and donate whatever you can.
We are in a position to help. We are asking for your help too because the faster we can pool a large amount, the faster we can get it to the most helpless. As we have declared in both sites all 100% of the collected money will go directly to the victims – not to gov’t agencies or dodgy charities. We will provide accounting if needed be. The people who will distribute the supplies have paid for their own airfares; food and accommodation expenses will not be taken from the collected money.
As of this writing we have a combined $1300 (roughly 52,907 pesos) of donations from friends and strangers (or at least some individuals we can’t identify). We originally intended for $1000. We have underestimated the generosity of people so we have upped it to $3000. Please share this to anyone who might be interested to help us help them.
And you have my gratitude in advance. Know that your share in donations are going to matter. Salamat po (thank you).