How to Help

10:45 AM


This is the first time a news report has made me tear up. Apologies to those who don't understand Tagalog. This is a 30-minute update on the devastation brought on by supertyphoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan), whose winds reached speeds of 195 mph (314 kph), bringing in storm surges from the sea, ripping away at a cathedral, and cutting coconut trees by sheer force. Reporter Jiggy Manicad likens the experience to being inside a washing machine. People had to wear helmets to avoid being hit by flying debris. Estimated death toll is about 120, and with communications down and people missing, it is feared that it will climb up to 1,200. Particularly horrifying is minute 3:30, where a father is being interviewed as he is holding his 6-year old daughter, who died in an evacuation center.

News from colleagues stationed in the areas is both hopeful and worrying. Some report no mortalities as of yet, but many are still unaccounted for. The aftermath of the destruction goes beyond physical injuries and infrastructure. The four horsemen of natural disasters will inevitably converge: death, destruction, disease, disability.

#ReliefPH and #YolandaPH are hashtags being used to circulate status updates, missing persons, and relief operations. Rappler has a comprehensive, updated list of organizations accepting donations and relief goods: #ReliefPH: Victims of Typhoon Yolanda need your help. (I knew there was a reason I haven't hauled anything from the many sales popping up.) It's grouped nationally by province and include international efforts. As the list cautions, always conduct due diligence before donating money directly to personal bank accounts.

Project Agos is constructing a disaster information map with critical information such as flooding, road or building damage, or those who need rescue or assistance. Volunteers map curators can also sign up here.

As communications open up, I believe medical missions and other operations will be organized. Hopefully soon. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, probability of survival from serious injury decreases substantially 12 to 24 hours after the disaster impact. Good outcomes in most cases are thus highly dependent on rapidity of appropriate medical and surgical response (Fazio 2013).

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