Typhoon Haiyan

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Remember the Christmas Tsunami of 2004? Quarter of a million souls left the planet in short order and those of us who remained simply stopped in our tracks, owl-eyed, at the enormity of that event. Since then, disasters have come one after another so that we don’t experience that same eye-stinging, throat closing physical response any more — but there is still a psychic response that rings all our bells, even if we have to get very quiet to hear it.

So it is today with the 10,000 dead, 2,000 missing and 600,000 displaced in the Philippines. I’ve had to effort to get information on this dreadful event — it’s just not showing up on the American radar with any energy. It should. It’s being described as the most powerful storm to ever make landfall … and it doesn’t take much imagination to link it to global warming. Scientists are promising us ever stronger events like these as the norm. If this kind of thing doesn’t get our attention soon, making it imperative to push past the deniers as irrelevant to our survival, we shall go the way of the Dodo.

The first article here is on climate, the next on promises of international aid and the last on those in this country attempting to contact relatives.

As we scrambled at Planet Waves to come up with options for giving during the Christmas Tsunami, a lot of organizations promised relief. Since then, information about how they use their funds has caused all of us to reconsider how to contribute. Charity Navigator is an excellent tool to use for this purpose, rating the various charities. Here is what they have to say about Hayan:

    Typhoon Haiyan, considered the most powerful storm to ever make landfall battered the Philippines with sustained winds close to 200 mph. The current death toll is feared to be over 10,000. The storm has caused mudslides, 30 feet high storm surges, as well as flash flooding. According to Philippine authorities, more than 12 million people are at risk due to the storm’s powerful impact.

    [Open the link for] a list of organizations supporting the relief and recovery efforts in the region. But before you pick a charity and make a donation, consider what it is that you want your donation to accomplish (such as emergency aid, medical assistance, long term relief) and be sure to select the charity offering that specific type of aid.

Nobody is talking about this — I know we’re tired, we’re overwhelmed and many of us are tapped out, but I just can’t let this go un-noted. If you can’t give money, cover this tragedy with prayer, Light and love.


Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines urges action to resolve climate talks deadlock
UN negotiations in Warsaw must deliver emergency climate pathway as new storm brews in the Pacific, says government

John Vidal and Adam Vaughan, Guardian
Monday 11 November 2013

The Philippines government has firmly connected the super typhoon Haiyan with climate change, and urged governments meeting in Poland on Monday to take emergency action to resolve the deadlocked climate talks.

“We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway,” said Yeb Sano, head of the government’s delegation to the UN climate talks, in an article for the Guardian, in which he challenged climate sceptics to “get off their ivory towers” to see the impacts of climate change firsthand.

Sano, whose family comes from the devastated town of Tacloban where the typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Friday, said that countries such as the Philippines did not have time to wait for an international climate deal, which countries have agreed to reach in Paris in 2015.

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” he told delagates from 190 countries, as UN climate negotiations get underway for a fortnight today in Warsaw. “The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.

“Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.”

Sano dared anyone who doubted man-made climate change to visit his country: “To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare them to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce.

“Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, they may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.”

He said that even the most ambitious carbon emissions reductions by developed countries would not be enough to avert catastrophe. “Developed country emissions reductions targets are dangerously low and must be raised immediately, but even if they were in line with the demand of reducing 40-50% below 1990 levels, we would still have locked-in climate change and would still need to address the issue of loss and damage.”

He was agonising over the fate of his relatives, and while his brother had survived, he had spent the last two days gathering the bodies of the dead “with his own two hands.”

The UN climate chief said on Monday that typhoon Haiyan served as a backdrop of “sobering reality” to the fortnight-long negotiations, which are being held in a football stadium in Warsaw.

“We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game,” Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) told delegates. “There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves.”

She said that officials in Warsaw must continue to lay the groundwork for a climate deal in Paris in 2015, and explain details of financing to help poorer countries adapt to climate change.

Figueres was followed by the head of the UN’s climate science panel who quoted Albert Einstein – “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them” – in a presentation to the Warsaw meeting. He said that global warming was unequivocal and that human activities were “extremely likely” to be causing temperature rises.

Rajendra Pachauri, who is chairman of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, also reiterated other findings of the panel’s landmark report published in September, including warnings that continued climate change will lead to the rapid shrinking of Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels by the end of the century.

Separately, youth climate campaigners at the summit criticised Figueres for agreeing to give a speech at a coal conference that is taking place on the sidelines of the UN talks.

Sierra Student Coalition delegate Ashok Chandwaney said: “The secretary’s decision to engage with the coal industry ignores the reality that by attending their summit as a keynote speaker, she is legitimising their presence and succumbing to their far-reaching influence on the UNFCCC process.” ++

Factbox: World offers aid for typhoon-ravaged Philippines
Reuters via Yahoo news

Many survivors have lost loved ones and everything they own. They have no food, clean water, medicine or shelter. Bodies left to rot in the fields and by the sides of roads are adding to the risk of disease.

International aid agencies and countries are rushing in supplies and personnel. Here is a non-exhaustive list of donations and efforts, supplementing supplies being flown in from elsewhere in the Philippines.

- AUSTRALIA announced a $10 million package, including medical personnel and non-food items such as tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water containers and hygiene kits.

- BRITAIN announced a six million pound ($9.6 million) package including aid for up to 500,000 people including temporary shelter, water, plastic sheeting and household items.

- NEW ZEALAND will give NZ$2.15 million in aid.

- JAPAN is to send a 25-strong emergency medical relief team.

- INDONESIA is to dispatch aircraft and logistical aid including personnel, drinking water, food, generators, antibiotics and other medication.

- The UNITED STATES has sent a team of about 90 Marines and sailors, part of a first wave of promised U.S. military assistance. The U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID) is sending emergency shelter and hygiene materials expected to arrive early this week. It is sending 55 tons of emergency food to feed 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for up to five days. The U.S. EMBASSY is sending $100,000 for water and sanitation support.

- The EUROPEAN COMMISSION said it would provide 3 million euros ($4 million) to help worst-affected areas.

- CHINA will give a total of $200,000 in cash in aid.

- INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE will dispatch an emergency team and has launched a $10 million appeal for aid.

- MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES is strengthening its teams with an additional 30 people including medical personnel, logisticians and psychologists arriving in coming days. MSF is also sending 200 tons of medical and relief items.

- THE U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND (UNICEF) is airlifting $1.3 million worth of supplies including water purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarpaulins, and micro nutrient supplements.

- THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME is airlifting 40 tons of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed 120,000 people for a day, as well as emergency supplies and communications equipment. ++

(Writing by Laura Philomin; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Expat Filipinos desperately seek word from loved ones after typhoon strikes
Jonathan Kaminsky and James Pomfre, Reuters via Yahoo news

(Reuters) – Filipinos from the United States to Asia sought word from loved ones in their homeland and prayed for missing and displaced family after a super typhoon swept through the central Philippines killing an estimated 10,000 people.

In Hong Kong, where some 160,000 Filipinos work, most as domestic helpers, there a sense of helplessness amongst the many thousands from the worst-hit Visayas archipelago amid a widespread communications blackout.

“My son and my mum are there and I don’t have any news about them. There is no Internet connection and no telephone connection, it’s all broken,” said Flynn Blancaber, a 30-year-old domestic helper whose home is close to a beach on Panay island in the western Visayas.

“I just don’t know what is happening there.”

Luz Viminda Guzman spent a frantic weekend calling and texting before finally getting through to her 33-year-old son from the town of Albuera on the west coast of hard-hit Leyte island, for a one-minute call before the line cut.

“I really cried knowing they’re okay,” said Guzman, a 55-year-old domestic helper, her voice choking with emotion.

“When he said ‘we have no more house’, I said ‘never mind. What’s important is you’re safe. If we don’t have a house we can start again, and what’s important is I can hear your voice and my grandsons are okay’”, Guzman said, her family now living from hand to mouth in a tent beside their gutted home.

Filipino groups in Hong Kong, the vast majority Roman Catholics, have been appealing for cash donations and are planning counseling sessions and prayer vigils for those with family impacted by Typhoon Haiyan.

In the San Francisco suburb of Pinole, about 150 Filipino parishioners prayed during mass at Saint Joseph Catholic Church for relatives and friends unaccounted for from the super typhoon, which left more than 600,000 people homeless.

In the New York City borough of Queens, televisions in restaurants, bakeries and other shops along a 15-block thoroughfare dubbed Little Manila were tuned to news from the Philippines, with residents commiserating over frantic efforts to get in touch with missing loved ones.

Asuncion Hipe, a nursing assistant, said she had been unable to reach her three sisters and a nephew in remote Samar province, where the storm made its initial landfall and authorities said at least 300 people were dead.

“I keep on calling them and nobody answers me. It doesn’t go through; it says ‘out of coverage area,’” she said. “I don’t care about the property. I just want them to be alive.”

Even for many of those who had been able to reach family in their homeland, emotions ran high.

Angelina Flores, who was sending money to family in Cebu province, which was directly in the storm’s path, said her uncle and other family were without water and power and in desperate need of supplies.

“My house, my brother’s house, is gone,” she said.

In Los Angeles, about 50 people attended services and a lunch on Sunday at the Filipino Christian Church that raised $200 for storm victims.

“Trees are falling down from the backyard on to the house,” said Marcelle Gossett, who had tears in her eyes and placed her hands together in prayer as she recounted the plight of her two sons, their wives, and her 14 grandchildren, all of whom live in Cebu City. “I told them to go to the rescue, but they’re stuck and can’t leave the house.”

In Singapore, another major overseas hub for Filipinos with an estimated population of around 250,000, grassroots groups appealed for aid.

“Everyone here is affected,” said Angel Luciano, the Chaplain for Filipino Migrants in Singapore. “One way or the other we all have relatives, friends, or connections to those who were hit.” ++

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York, Dana Feldman in Los Angeles, Laila Kearney in San Francisco, James Pomfret in Hong Kong and Rachel Armstrong in Singapore; Editing by Nick Macfie)

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
~ The Reverend Martin Luther King

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