Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Frightening Repetition of History

Today my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Leyte province, Philippines and its capital city of Tacloaban, where Typhoon Haiyan has so far claimed 10,000 lives. It is gratifying to know that the international community, both governments and NGOs, has mobilized so rapidly to assist people who are without food, water and emergency medical assistance. I can only hope that this assistance continues for as long as the area needs it.

The Guardian reported today:

It's worth reiterating that for all the obvious destructive power of sustained wind speeds of almost 200mph, it was the associated storm surge – the rush of water into coastal areas – which caused the worst damage in Tacloban, and most likely many of the deaths. The storm surge in Tacloban was estimated at 6m, sweeping away even concrete buildings, and bringing the sort of devastation so reminiscent of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Philippine national and local government should also be commended for its response to both the capital and outlying areas, although as the reports indicate, the devastation is so widespread that the national emergency assistance force will need an incredible amount of outside assistance, including UN security forces.

When disaster relief agencies begin to evaluate how much and what type of assistance to give to this province, they should remember Aceh: after nine years, it still has not healed.

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