As of this writing, 2,357 are dead and 338,000 persons are housed in evacuation centers a week after super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the central part of the Philippines. The casualties are expected to rise after rescuers are able to reach and determine the situation in the remote parts of Samar and Leyte provinces.
Thousands died after a storm surge hit Tacloban, the capital of Leyte. Several towns were devastated leaving many homeless. Survivors have complained that aid is not being provided to them by the government. There are reports that some refugees are dying because of hunger. But the government is denying that it is slow in providing assistance to typhoon victims.
Donations are urgently needed to save more lives and rehabilitate the affected towns. Thankfully, aid is pouring in from all over the world. The government has compiled a list of agencies which can receive international donations. Several foundations and schools are also accepting all kinds of aid. Donations can be sent even through iTunes and mobile phones. Western Union will not charge money transfers to the Philippines until the end of the month.
The government’s official website provides updates of the impact of Haiyan and relief activities. Those looking for missing relatives or friends can seek help through the Google Person Finder and the Philippine Red Cross tracing form. Meanwhile, the government has uploaded a list of deceased persons in the typhoon-ravaged provinces.
Robert Plaza comments on the role of social media in coordinating response during and after the disaster:
It is definitely the perfect time for social media to show its wares, unfortunately, in such devastation. So far, social media did not disappoint — except of course, in areas where powerlines and communications were down, and that’s understandable. Outside the affected areas, however, it’s a different story: social media became a convenient tool for more people to respond to the calamity.
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) November 14, 2013
Relief arrives at Pan de Azucar island in Concepcion, Iloilo via Heli. Our efforts are not just in Eastern Visayas. pic.twitter.com/pGKSXMWLWc
— Team AFP (@TeamAFP) November 12, 2013
A rainbow appears over Tacloban, ushering the first week of the tragedy. There is hope. pic.twitter.com/qL6j8nKLPD
— Raffy Tima (@raffytima) November 14, 2013
Manila Times lists what the government should prioritize in the relief efforts:
Countless dead remain unburied and their decaying bodies have the potential for spreading disease. At the very least, the stench their cadavers emit makes rescue and recovery work unbearable.
Then there are the seriously injured or ill. If they do not receive medical assistance soonest, they will wither and die, and become part of the statistics that is already too painful to bear.
There are also the hundreds of thousands who have nothing, literally nothing. No homes (as these were blown away), no food (as what food they had was lost during the storm), and nothing but the clothes on their back (as all their clothes were likewise hopelessly damaged by Yolanda).
Boo Chanco recognizes the value of criticizing the government’s slow relief operations:
I now doubt the validity of calls to stop criticizing government's slow pace of relief operations. it looks like criticism, specially if coming from foreign media, is just the thing to get our bureaucrats to get a sense of urgency. We ought to unite as a people to get through this tragedy but it doesn't mean we shouldn't point out how things could and should be made better along the way.
Violeta Lopez Gonzaga (through the Facebook of Mila Aguilar), a government social worker, asks the public to be more considerate in judging the response of the government:
We are slow, yes. But realize that only about 5 staff including the director and asst director who stay in our Office in Tacloban are reporting for work. We dont know if other staff are alive or injured or even dead. We have no time to look for them.
Roads still blocked with debris so no direct transport. Our field workers are humans too. These human beings, who themselves were victims too, is the government under fire now for being slow. We are not fast enough even for our own standard but please understand that Yolanda is beyond what we expected, beyond what we prepared for.