Packing sustained winds of 195 mph (stronger than the force of Hurricane Katrina), creating waves as high as 45 feet, and dumping more than 15 inches of rain, Typhoon Haiyan – which struck the Philippines last weekend – will go down on record as one of the most destructive storms the world has ever seen.
Today, there is complete and utter devastation throughout the Phillipines, home to more than 98 million people. More than nine million are believed to have been affected by the super typhoon, especially those occupying Tacloban (provincial capital city of Leyte island) and a portion of Samar island. Here, the damage is unimaginable.
Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced, food is scarce, and because the storm surge destroyed an already-fragile water system, safe drinking water is nearly impossible to find. Widespread looting is also reported as residents struggle to survive the storm’s aftermath. The streets are strewn with overturned cars, destroyed homes, and worse–the dead. Residents and emergency workers continue to dig through the rubble in hopes of finding those still alive.
Understandably, a huge international relief effort, including the U.S. military’s “Operation Damayan (which means help in the Filipino language), is now underway.
Early estimates placed the death toll throughout the Philippines as high as 10,000 people. Thankfully, the number (as of this posting) stands at 1,833, though that number is expected to climb to between two and three thousand in the coming days.
Countless injuries were also reported as a result of the typhoon, with thousands of Filipinos receiving emergency treatment in make-shift hospitals. This number is expected to climb drastically as relief workers make their way into more remote areas, including the city of Guiuan, where more than 40,000 people reportedly live.
The Philippines is no stranger to the force of nature. Super Typhoon Thelma, the deadliest typhoon to hit the island country, claimed five to eight thousand lives in 1991. Super Typhoon Pepeng in 2009 is currently on record as its most destructive storm, causing over $600 million (U.S.) in damage. And, just last month, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake ravaged the Luzon and Samar islands along the eastern coast.
If your organization has been impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, or is involved in the world’s response and recovery efforts to it, Send Word Now would like to offer you our support by donating a temporary alerting and incident management service account. To request a Send Word Now account, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will reach out to you immediately.
We also invite all readers to download our National Preparedness Month Special Report: Weathering the Storm for guidance on communications best practices for organizational resilience in extreme weather situations.
In the meantime, and on behalf of the entire Send Word Now team, our thoughts are with the people of the Philippines, as well as those who tirelessly work to bring supplies, support and solace to such ravaged areas globally.