Super typhoon Haiyan and the Filipinos Five Years Later
November 2013. Super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, devastated the Visayas region in the Philippines.
More than 6300 fatalities were recorded, of which over 5000 dead and the rest were missing. The super typhoon was one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded. It left the region in tatters and affected about 11 million Filipinos and many were left homeless.
The aftermath was heart-wrenching. What left were debris and homes turned to rubble.
Soon after the destruction, relief operations were mobilized. But reaching those who are in need proved difficult. Bridges collapsed and roads totally blocked. The only means to reach the affected areas was by air. After few days, people became desperate from hunger. They ransacked stores that survived from the cyclone.Violence ensued.
Volunteers flocked and foreign aids arrived. Victims were given immediate attention and provided with temporary shelters. Billion worth of pledges from foreign countries were received. The amount to rebuild was estimated to $5.8B.
After a year, thousands of residents still live in temporary homes and millions are still displaced. Recovery and rehabilitation was slow. The then president Benigno Aquino III promised to build hundreds of thousands of homes, but three years later, only about 25 000 were completed and only 2 500 were occupied. In fact, billions worth of foreign donations were found sitting at the banks of the implementing arm of the agency responsible of the funds. The government was criticized.
However, in 2016 after Duterte was elected president, he stated that he’s getting impatient on the slow recovery. He gave a short and simple instructions; end complacency; end corruption- indolence is corruption; put the homeless into houses, give permits on the dot.
On his first year of administration, the number of house built were more than doubled. Issuing building and construction permits were streamlined, turnover of homes fast-tracked. Financial assistance were provided to those who lost their homes. Classrooms and government facilities were rehabilitated. Roads and national bridges were repaired, flood control structures built in 12 months, exceeding the target. Non-government organizations and volunteer groups provide services especially in restoring mental health and wellness of those affected. Many families lost their loved ones, or even lost everything after all.
The calamity also gave rise to awareness drives on climate change and environmental care campaigns.
But the recovery has yet to be completed. It will take time to fully restore what was damaged. The physical pain may have subsided but the mental and psychological damage still remains. However, the Filipinos are known for their resilience and adaptability. Despite the havoc, the Filipino spirit remains steadfast. Life goes on.
However, the government can only do so much. Only when one’s spirit has the will to carry on that true healing starts. In times of need, set aside the difference may it be color, race, religion or even political affiliations. Camaraderie and solidarity should come first. There is calm after the storm. So may all wounds heal and may the Filipinos brave everything that is yet to come.
Let’s discuss with aimtalk teachers (request a teacher with this article link)
- What was the worse disaster you’ve ever experienced? Please elaborate.
- Which natural disaster are you scared the most? How do you prepare for natural hazards?
- How is Japan’s readiness and response to calamities and disasters?
in tatters: ruined
flock(v):go there in large numbers
complacency(n): a feeling of satisfaction so that you stop trying to improve things
calamity(n): a disaster
subside(v): gradually become less and then stop
camaraderie(n): friendship, especially when working together
solidarity(n): loyalty and general agreement between all the people in a group/groups for same aim