Our country has had its share of storms from the sea, with Superstorm Sandy barely a year ago and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 among the most destructive.
In recent days the Philippines has reeled from another monster, Typhoon Haiyan. It’s been described as the strongest storm ever to make landfall, and brought a storm surge that swamped two-story buildings. When Haiyan struck Friday and Saturday, it was merciless.
Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, who leads U.S. relief efforts, made the urgency of the situation clear when he said, “The rest of the world needs to get mobilized… A week from now will be too late.”
The death toll this morning approached 1,800 people, and more than 2,700 others were injured; 10,000 are feared dead, though the toll could well exceed that estimate.
Millions of Filipinos have been affected by the storm, which demolished thousands of buildings — sometimes sweeping away entire towns. As a result, great numbers of people have no shelter, no food, no drinking water and no sanitation. So scattered are some of the villages in this nation of more than 7,000 islands that the precise extent of the damage is unknown.
What is known is that the damage is catastrophic and relief efforts must be monumental. The Philippines is a poor country, one-fourth of whose citizens live on less than $1.25 a day. Poor roads, which slowed evacuations, is now slowing recovery efforts; many of the roads that do exist have been washed out or blocked by debris.
Appropriately, U.S. military assistance, which was invaluable when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004, is bringing in supplies as varied as water and food and medical items and offering logistical support.
Area residents who want to help are encouraged to donate money rather than clothes or food. Money is more helpful because aid agencies can use it to acquire whatever is most needed and adjust their priorities as situations change. Among established agencies involved in the Philippines relief are the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and UNICEF. To donate, call or visit their websites.
With food and gifts to buy as the holidays approach and with plenty of fellow citizens in this community going hungry, the needs often exceed the assistance. For folks who want to help the Philippines, we would urge them to act quickly.