Saturday, November 8, 2014

The ‘Yolanda’ tragedy

Babe Romualdez in the Philippine Star: It’s been a year after that fateful day on November 8, 2013 – but to this day, no one can say for certain how many people perished in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda [also known as Haiyan]
.  Estimates on the number of casualties are as high as 7,000 with some 1,800 missing or presumed dead – which is not too far from the projection made by police chief superintendent Elmer Soria who was eventually sacked as Eastern Visayas regional head for saying the number of fatalities could reach 10,000.

No one could have predicted the kind of devastation that Yolanda would bring, with the super typhoon now having gained infamy as the strongest ever to hit not only the Philippines but the world – whose power was described by meteorologists as “off the charts,” and that its intensity could not be tracked or handled by widely used satellite intensity scales because it has approached the “theoretical maximum intensity for any storm, anywhere.”

As some experts have noted, no amount of preparation could have spared Eastern Visayas from the intensity of the super typhoon. This was particularly true with Tacloban City that was the hardest hit because its location put it in the middle of two bodies of water that hit it with towering waves as high as five meters brought about by the storm surge – the first one coming from the direction of the Pacific Ocean through Tacloban Bay, then the second one from Cancabato Bay.

Storms, typhoons, earthquakes and other natural calamities do not choose – they can hit any country regardless of economic stature, they do not distinguish  “names” nor political affiliation, neither religion nor social status. Devastating as they are, tragedies such as that wrought by super typhoon Yolanda can also bring out the best in people, seen in the way Filipinos banded together as they gave donations, volunteered time and effort to repack relief items and offered prayers for casualties as well as survivors. The response from the international community was – for lack of a better word – overwhelming, with help still pouring in until this very day to speed up the rehabilitation of the areas that were damaged....

Typhoon Haiyan viewed from the International Space Station, November 9, 2013

No comments: