Last Friday and Saturday, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest recorded tropical cyclones to ever make landfall, hit parts of the Philippines, southern Vietnam, southern China, and Micronesia.
Locally, the typhoon known as Yolanda, hit with winds of 146 miles per hour and wind gusts of 170 miles per hour. Time Magazine reported that almost 700,000 people are displaced in the Philippines, and at least 9.8 million people were affected overall. Originally, the Filipino government estimated that nearly 10,000 people were feared dead but in the aftermath, President Benigno Aquino has lowered the expected death toll to around 2,500 people and nearly 2,000 others injured according to Time.
The provincial capital of the central island, Leyte, Tacloban, which has a population of 220,000 people was allegedly hit the hardest. The city of Baco in the Oriental Mindoro province is reportedly 80 percent underwater. Existing, like much of the surrounding provinces, without food, water, electricity and little to no communication infrastructures, the rest of the world fears for the Philippines and the surrounding areas in Southeast Asia. Media outlets, including Time Magazine, have reported images, many of them graphic, of the devastation illustrating debris, destroyed houses, trees revealing their roots from the storm surge and people both dead and alive.
There is almost no communication infrastructure in the areas hit hardest in the Philippines. All of the airports in the provinces hit by the storm are destroyed and thus, sending food and clothing is not an effective way to relieve the people of the Philippines right now. The Red Cross, Americares and many other disaster relief organizations have recommended that monetary donations will be most effective until infrastructure in the Philippines and the other countries affected see some restoration.
Filipino-American senior John Sapida, a member of the community service fraternity on campus Alpha Phi Omega, has spearheaded Ramapo’s initial response to Haiyan. Sapida has made plans for tabling beginning this Monday, November 18 in the Fishbowl and Student Center, encouraging students to donate in any amount they can. Other organizations involved in tabling include the Human Rights Society, Sigma Iota Rho Honor Society, Filipino American Student Association (FASA) and the Civic and Community Engagement Center (CCEC).
Sapida and CCEC have a few other fundraising ideas that they would like collaborate with other organizations on, including a modest dinner in a few weeks, a large scale dinner, a talent show and some educational programming after Thanksgiving.
“Any and all ideas to fund raise are welcome,” Assistant Director of Civic Engagement, Karen Booth, said. “We are simply aiming for a coordinated Ramapo-wide response.”
As infrastructure is restored, CCEC will request donations at each event it’s running during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week from November 18-22.
In comparison with Hurricane Sandy of 2012, which caused nearly $50 billion of damage to New York and New Jersey areas, about 1 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP), the damage of Haiyan will cause the Philippines upwards of $15 billion, around 5 percent of the Philippine’s GDP.
Last year, many of Ramapo’s clubs and organizations responded to Sandy by tabling for donations, collecting food and clothing and volunteering to rebuild destroyed homes in North and South Jersey, as well as areas in New York, including Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Students, clubs and organizations that are interested in becoming involved in the Ramapo response to Typhoon Haiyan should e-mail CCEC at firstname.lastname@example.org, stop by SC 213 or call them at 201-684-7586 with ideas and questions.