01699: Typhoon Yolanda Aftermath

With partial communications finally being restored in the province of Leyte, the full extent of the effects of Typhoon of Yolanda is finally becoming relatively clearer. The death toll is by no means final and initial reports now peg casualty estimates from around 1,000 to over 10,000 people. The sheer destruction that ravaged the region, especially Leyte, is staggering.

The stories trickling out of the region include reports of widespread looting and a general breakdown of law and order in many cities. Rescue and relief efforts are hampered by the destruction in the area, the severe damage to local infrastructure and desperate survivors taking matters into their own hands in terms of forcibly taking the supplies that they need. Even Red Cross convoys have been allegedly stopped by lawless elements trying to take the supplies for themselves.

And one can't really fault survivors for what's going on down there. The local government wasn't fully prepared for the potential destruction that this typhoon would bring - I don't think anyone had a clear idea of what Yolanda was capable of. The national government's relief operations are struggling to keep up with the scale of the disaster, and we've already invested resources in relief efforts in Zamboanga after the minor uprising and the recent Earthquake that devastated Bohol and nearby provinces.

Beyond feeling bad for the survivors or even feeling moderately depressed by the news reports coming out of Leyte, we need to take more definitive action. The easiest thing to do at this point is to donate to relief efforts such as the Philippine Red Cross. Should you have the time, you can also check the web for groups that need help with packing relief goods or perhaps drop off food and clothing with different organizations taking such donations.

And for those of you looking for information regarding your loved ones in the area or are more directly involved in rescue efforts and have information about survivors, you can check out Google's Person Finder dedicated to those affected by the typhoon.