Storm in the South: The Impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan

Beached Cargo Ship, courtesy of Reuters
Beached Cargo Ship, courtesy of Reuters

On Friday, Super Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda by Filipinos, struck the provinces of Leyte and Samar in the Philippines. The BBC described the scope of the storm as including “sustained winds of 147 mph, with gusts of 170 mph, and waves as high as 45ft. In some places, as much as 15.775 inches of rain fell.” According to Reuters and to the BBC, over 10,000 people were killed by the natural disaster.  The U.N. figures claimed that the storm impacted 9.8 million people, and over 660,000 people were displaced by the destruction. Following the typhoon, the dead were buried in mass graves, and the survivors resorted to looting to obtain the necessary materials for subsistence. Communications and power remained inactive. The President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, declared a state of calamity for the Philippines. Richard Gordon, the leader of the Philippine Red Cross commented that the storm created a state of “absolute bedlam.” Oxfam leader Jane Cocking noted that the storm left, “complete devastation…entire parts of the coastline just disappeared.” Super Typhon Haiyan left an impact of sheer destruction and death as it swept through the Philippines.

C-130 flying over the destruction, courtesy of VOA
C-130 flying over the destruction, courtesy of VOA

Super Typhoon Haiyan has elicited a plethora of responses from the international community. Countries have pledged to support relief efforts with international aid. The BBC listed that Australia has pledged $9.4 million dollars, China promised $0.2 million dollars, The European Commission guaranteed $4 million dollars, the U.N. offered funds from its emergency relief fund up to $25 million dollars, and the U.S. sent 90 marines and sailors to distribute humanitarian aid. According to Reuters, American armed forces have been supporting relief efforts especially in the logistical task of moving food, water, and medical supplies from Villamor Air Base to Manila and to Tacloban. This logistical support is imperative, as Presidential Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras stressed to get the proper aid to the survivors that, “Every single square foot of C-130 [a transportation aircraft] space or every pound of C-130 capacity from Manila to Tacloban is critical.” At the U.N., the storm has spurred debate at climate talks in Warsaw, as the Philippine delegate has blamed global warming for the typhoon. While reform at the U.N. level will be beneficial in the long-term, getting aid to the survivors and boots on the ground to restore law and order is pivotal at this stage. The United States should continue to work with IGOs and NGOs to gather international aid for the Philippines, while using its military logistical forces to continue to distribute the aid where it is needed most.

Image of the line at the Tacloban Airport, courtesy of the VOA
Image of the line at the Tacloban Airport, courtesy of the VOA

Bibliography

BBC. “Typhoon Haiyan; Philippines Declares State of Calamity.” BBC News Asia. November 11, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24901993?print=true.

Mogato, Manuel and Roli Ng. “Philippine Storm Survivors Beg for Help and Supplies.” Reuters. November 11, 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/11/us-philippines-typhoon-idUSBRE9A603Q20131111.

Orendain, Simone. “Food and Water Top Concerns for Philippine Survivors.” VOA. November 11, 2013.

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