The sky over the Philippines’ central islands was a dim grey early November. Even though the Philippines endure an average of 20 typhoons each year, nobody knew that a category five super typhoon, later named Haiyan, was heading their way.
During the typhoon, the one million residents of the Philippines who left their homes and went to shelters could hear howling winds, falling trees and crumbling buildings. Residents were warned days before that a typhoon was coming, but most people didn’t know the severity of it or simply didn’t evacuate.
A typhoon is a tropical cyclone that develops in the Northwest Pacific Basin and derives from warm waters, air moisture and unstable atmospheric conditions. As a super typhoon, Haiyan’s 180-mile-per-hour winds were so powerful, they could blow apart stormproof shelters and the roofs off buildings. Haiyan caused five-meter waves that hit the islands of Leyte and Samar. According to Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert and director of meteorology at U.S.-based Weather Underground, Typhoon Haiyan was the fourth strongest recorded typhoon the world has ever seen.
The United Nations reported that, in total, 4.1 million people were displaced, over 1,200 evacuation centers were established, and 130,074 homes were destroyed. The UN also reported that over 90% of the housing in some cities and towns had been destroyed, and over 14.1 million people were affected altogether. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the confirmed death toll is over 6,000.
The UN released $25 million in emergency funds to provide immediate assistance with urgent needs such as transport, emergency shelter material, hygiene kits and the establishment of family tracing services.
The United States sent the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and its escort ships to the Philippines with water, food, fuel and medical supplies, and U.S. Navy helicopters are helping search and rescue operations and delivering aid to remote areas.
Marlborough is also doing its part to help. Girls Go Global made Typhoon Haiyan the global issue of the month in November and sent students to work with Operation USA on its relief effort. Marlborough girls have been sending thank you letters for donations to the relief effort and educating girls about the issue in order to get more people involved.