Haiyan: Spreading the Focus

Map of the Philippines with Leyte highlighted
Map of the Philippines with Leyte highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you hear about an entire city being flattened in a few minutes by Mother Nature, it’s easy to concentrate your grief and attention on that one place. Of course, Typhoon Haiyan has wreaked havoc in far more than one place. There are towns on Leyte, Cebu and Samar islands that people can’t even get to yet.

Since leaving the Philippines, Haiyan has gone on to Vietnam and China, weakened, but still terrifying. Because these two countries are more closed to Western media, we don’t know as much about what’s happening there. We know some 600,000 Vietnamese were evacuated before Haiyan hit. This report from the Voice of Vietnam state radio indicates that 13 people were killed by Haiyan. The BBC reports that Vietnam’s capital Hanoi worries about flooding in the next couple days.

So, do pay attention to what’s happening. Stay informed. Help if you can. I have traditionally supported Oxfam America, but many options exist.

Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan (Photo credit: Fragile Oasis)

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More from Tacloban

Still thinking a lot about Typhoon Haiyan and its victims in the Philippines. Vietnam is bracing anew as we type.

The Associated Press (US) took this photograph of the airport at Tacloban:

Tacloban airport in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan
Tacloban airport in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

A terrifying quote, also from an AP story:

One Tacloban resident said he and others took refuge inside a parked Jeep to protect themselves from the storm, but the vehicle was swept away by a surging wall of water.

“The water was as high as a coconut tree,” said 44-year-old Sandy Torotoro, a bicycle taxi driver who lives near the airport with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. “I got out of the Jeep and I was swept away by the rampaging water with logs, trees and our house, which was ripped off from its mooring.”

“When we were being swept by the water, many people were floating and raising their hands and yelling for help. But what can we do? We also needed to be helped,” Torotoro said.

Let us hope that the half-million Vietnamese evacuated ahead of Haiyan’s fury will be safe, and that all can recover soon.

Related Post:

Tracking the Worst Storm Ever

Tracking the Worst Storm Ever

Let me be honest: This was going to be a rant about how cutbacks in international coverage by the mass media in the United States had left folks on this side of the Pacific Ocean under-informed about Typhoon Haiyan. The source of my anger (really) was turning on The Weather Channel last night before going to bed, and finding yet another trivial filler program. Of course, at that time, Haiyan was still just a threat to the Philippines (if a massive one), or perhaps making landfall. Not much news yet.

Speaking of massive, if you haven’t seen pictures of the storm, here’s one that should amaze you, Haiyan from orbit (by way of the Guardian):

Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan from orbiting satellites

This morning, I woke up to this report from NPR’s Morning Edition, but was too groggy to take any of the information in. At this point, the onslaught had definitely begun, but reporters belonged in safer locations. One can only imagine what it would be like trying to stand up in front of a camera with wind gusts approaching 200 miles per hour!

During the day, I followed The Guardian’s rolling coverage when not doing real work (their Minute-by-Minute page is terrific for following any big UK or global story, by the way. You’ll find soccer and cricket matches too.). I usually check the BBC on my iPod for quick updates, too, but they didn’t seem to have much information.

When I got home from work is when I started feeling foolish about my initial coverage assessment. All the old network newscasts opened with the storm, with amazing and disturbing video. A scan of all my iPod news apps brought me largely up to date (though I still think it’s a little weird that the PBS Newshour partners with ITN in Britain for international stories, rather than its fellow public broadcaster, the BBC). Though I haven’t checked yet, I imagine The Weather Channel is doing a better job than last night too.

What remains true is that, unless there is a direct impact on the US, TV journalists usually don’t have “boots on the ground” anymore. I hope that changes soon.

How do you get your international news? How important to you is learning about what happens outside of North America? Do you miss your favorite foreign correspondent?

Feel free to post information on Haiyan relief too.