The Philippines: typhoon aftermath getting worse

Again, I ask you – dear readers – do you have a plan?  Do you have some kind of plan, even a slim one, if your area floods or there is a freight train wreck with some lethal chemical or there is a fire or… whatever?  Will you know how to get your family together and get to safety?  Will you be able to keep them fed and warm and safe from harm?

Yes, I am trying to unsettle you, even scare you a little.

Even something as simple as this could get you started toward a better plan.

I am reading a heartrending story from Reuters about the aftermath of the super typhoon that devastated the Philippines. Excerpts:

(Reuters) – Desperation gripped Philippine islands devastated by Typhoon Haiyan as looting turned deadly on Wednesday and survivors panicked over shortages of food, water and medicine, some digging up underground water pipes and smashing them open.

Five days after one of the strongest storms ever recorded slammed into cities and towns in the central Philippines, anger and frustration boiled over on Wednesday as essential supplies dwindled. Some survivors scrawled signs reading “Help us”.


Some areas appeared to teeter near anarchy amid widespread looting of shops and warehouses for food, water and supplies.

There were reports of gunfire between security forces and armed men near a mass grave in worst-hit Tacloban in Leyte province, but city administrator Tecson John Lim denied the clash based on information he had received from the army.

Eight people were crushed to death when looters raided rice stockpiles in a government warehouse in the town of Alangalang, causing a wall to collapse, local authorities said.


Warehouses owned by food and drinks company Universal Robina Corp and drug company United Laboratories were ransacked in the storm-hit town of Palo in Leyte, along with a rice mill in Jaro, said Alfred Li, head of the Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


“The looting is not criminality. It is self-preservation,” Lim told Reuters.

Some survivors in Tacloban dug up water pipes in their desperate need for water.

“We don’t know if it’s safe. We need to boil it. But at least we have something,” said Christopher Dorano, 38.

“There have been a lot of people who have died here.”


Secretary Mar Roxas denied law and order were breaking down. “It is wrong to say there is lawlessness in the city,” he told reporters.

The NYT writes about the predictable rise in diseases:

The aftermath of the Philippines typhoon is now threatening the country with outbreaks of debilitating and potentially fatal diseases, including some thought to have been nearly eradicated, because of a collapse in sanitation, shortages of fresh water and the inability of emergency health teams to respond quickly in the week since the storm struck, doctors and medical officials said Thursday.

Illnesses including cholera, hepatitis, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid fever, bacterial dysentery and others that thrive in tropical, fetid environments, where sewage and water supplies intermingle, could form what doctors fear is the disaster’s second wave. They predicted that leptospirosis, a parasitic disease endemic to the Philippines, could surge. And some said they would not be surprised to see a return of polio. The Philippines is part of an area of the western Pacific declared polio-free by the World Health Organization nearly 14 years ago.

Medical aid groups on the ground in Tacloban, the city of 220,000 that was flattened when the storm made landfall a week ago and that only began to bury its dead on Thursday, have already expressed alarm over the risk of widespread tetanus infections among survivors wounded by shards of corrugated metal and splintered wood.

Some aid groups have already reported exhausting their initial supplies of vaccine to thwart tetanus, a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause painful muscle contractions, the inability to swallow and the locking of the jaw. “The population is at increased risk of tetanus as well as outbreaks of acute respiratory infections, measles, leptospirosis and typhoid fever,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the main international conduit for distributing relief to the Philippines, said on its website. The basic health infrastructures “are severely damaged in the worst affected areas and medical supplies are low.”


The USS George Washington carrier group has arrived with aid.

But… my Jesus, mercy!

Reliance on God is necessary. Ultimately we put no trust in any creature. However, we must help ourselves, always. We live by grace and by elbow grease.

When the Jews rebuilt the defensive walls of Jerusalem, they wore their swords while they worked. They were vigilant. When there was to be a 7 year famine, Joseph told the people to store grain. When in the infant Church, during the reign of Claudius, the Spirit inspired Ag’abus to foretell a famine, the disciples sent relief to the brethren in Judea through the work of Paul and Barnabas.

If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8

There are good organizations to which you can donate and help to send aid. Among them, I like Team Rubicon. You might have your own suggestions.


By the way… that’s Joplin, Missouri in 2011, not the Philippines.

Yes, it can happen to you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. iPadre says:

    Pretty sad! We all have to continue to pray. I’m glad the Bishops are having a collection.

  2. frjim4321 says:

    We are announcing the appeal this weekend but will conduct the second collection either next weekend or the weekend after in order to people to prepare for it.

    The devastation is unimaginable!

  3. Mike says:

    A timely reminder not only of earthly contingencies but of the Four Last Things.

  4. Priam1184 says:

    To echo Mike there is of course that moment for each of us when all earthly contingencies will fail, as they must. GO TO CONFESSION. And pray, as well as supplying whatever assistance you can, to our brothers in need in those islands.

  5. mamajen says:

    I “liked” Team Rubicon on Facebook after learning about them here, and it is so moving to see their pictures and learn about the work they do. I’m proud that we, and other countries, are on hand to help immediately after a disaster. My son’s religion unit this week is about loving others as God loves them, and I’ve been able to tie his school’s fundraising for the Philippines into that.

    With winter fast approaching, I am going to stock up on extra baby formula, water and non-perishables for our family. Storms usually come with some warning, but stores are cleared out quickly. My biggest fear is that something like an EMP happens in the dead of winter. Sometimes I run through various scenarios in my head to think about what I would do in an emergency.

  6. MasterofCeremonies says:

    Get your supply of imperishable food, water supply for at least a month, an arsenal of Glocks and AR-15s, and a good supply of rosaries!

  7. inexcels says:

    Thanks for the link to the disaster preparedness kit, Fr. Z. Maybe a little pricey for the contents, but I think the convenience is worth the cost for those of us who are too lazy to painstakingly assemble our own kits.

    Btw, although I would be unable to spend the time currently, for future reference, I’m interested to know how I could volunteer to help with disaster relief. Where would I get the necessary training, what would be a good organization to join, how to apply, etc. If anyone has information about this, please let me know. Again, it’s not something I could do at present, but I’m interested to know for the future.

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  9. Elizabeth M says:

    I put together a bright red suit case & red backpack and update the contents every 6 months. It’s like checking the smoke detector battery – you hope you don’t need it, but better to be prepared. I live in prime earthquake country and we know the “Big One” is coming. I have small children so much of the supplies are things they need or we can share. We’ve also mapped out foot paths out of town in case the freeways are closed.
    I credit my Marine grandfather and Navy father for gifting me this “planning” ability. What at the time seemed like silly stories may come in handy. For example, never be the third person in line when hiking through rattlesnake country: the first person wakes them up, the second makes them mad, and the third gets the fangs!

    God tells us to be prepared. I often remember the parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins. Prudence, penance and prayer!

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    I wish the media would not report people looting when they are finding food or water like we all would do. Looting is carrying a big screen, not rice. I may have said that here the other day. I said it somewhere.
    Items like preparedness books, Life Straws, etc., would make excellent Christmas gifts for some of our loved ones. For about $50 you can give the gift of clean water for a couple, using Life Straws. Prep books or videos might get others thinking about what they might want to do, although there are definitely naysayers who can’t be convinced of anything except you “worry too much”.

  11. Rachel K says:

    frjim4321 says:
    “We are announcing the appeal this weekend but will conduct the second collection either next weekend or the weekend after in order to people to prepare for it.”
    With respect, Fr Jim, how long does it take people to prepare to open their wallet? Or find their chequebook? Or a pen? These days electronic transfer can be made instantly from our bank accounts into a disaster fund.
    I am being a little tongue in cheek here, but even when we have donated, it will take some time for the necessary food, medicines etc to filter through and people are dying now.
    Can’t we encourage those around us to give what we can straight away? Everyone has something to spare, even the widow.

  12. Katylamb says:

    How long does it take people to prepare to open their wallet? You obviously live in a different world from some of us. I, for example, could make an “electronic transfer” of the 12 dollars in my account right now, or I could prepare to give up a few things in the upcoming weeks and give quite a bit more. Not everyone has instant money at their fingertips, believe it or not. I think Father Jim’s idea very sound and useful, and I can’t imagine why you would think he wasn’t encouraging people to give.

  13. kimberley jean says:

    How hard is it to throw a dollar or change into the collection basket?

  14. Hank Igitur says:

    Australian priest Kevin Lee who secretly married to a Filipina in Sydney and then revealed same in the Australian poplar mass media and wrote a book about his opinions was killed in these storms

  15. pannw says:

    @ Hank Igitur

    God have mercy on his soul.

    Oh, my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

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