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Typhoon Haiyan kills 10,000 in Philippines (theguardian.com)
307 points by r0h1n 1494 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 150 comments

I still don't get why the US Navy hasn't put an LHD or equivalent amphibious group into the relief effort -- it would be a great humanitarian thing, plus a show of strength for one of our key Pacific allies after the "pivot to Asia" -- a pretty clear implication that if we can put a battalion ashore to help hours after a hurricane, we can do similar things during a conflict. Extra points due to the huge number of USN sailors who come from the Philippines. It would be a super-cheap way to build US credibility in the region, help people, and deter future conflict.

Plus it would help solve the military "boredom" problem: http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2013/11/after-war-budget-cut...

Chances are, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (the USS Essex is an LHD 2) will be responding. One of the main missions of the 31st MEU is humanitarian aid in the event of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region. Depending on where all the ships are and what they're currently doing, it shouldn't take too long for them to get there. I was on the 31st MEU back when the cyclones hit in Myanmar, and our response was very quick. Unfortunately, we sat off the coast of Myanmar for about two weeks waiting to help, but the government in Myanmar wouldn't allow us to.

I imagine they will. About the time the hurricane was about to hit, Aquino assured the world that the Philippines would be ready and that even one casualty would be too much.

Currently there are areas which are completely isolated. After the hurricane passed, there was no way to know the status of these areas. There is no functioning communication for these people.

Just yesterday the headlines started out with something like "8 confirmed dead" then it went up to "100 confirmed dead" and of course now the numbers are exploding. Getting a solid grasp on the level of destruction and which areas need the most help takes time.

I'm seeing that the Philippines is starting to put out the call for help. I imagine that call will be answered.

I too was shocked. I went to work and the official number was below 100, I was floored to say the least to come home and discover the revised figure. It is absolutely insane, although in retrospect, I had hoped the country would be somewhat be better prepared and avoid such a huge number of lives lost, yet a small part of me expected it. I mean, one of, if not THE strongest storm in history? Hitting the south of the country? Sigh.

They've deployed ships.

I took part in the 2008 humanitarian relief det when Typhoon Fengshen hit land, and our response time was about seven hours from the time we got the phone call and had planes and helos on the ground delivering supplies and providing medical care.

Those response times are largely based on how quickly we can get supplies from USAID, and receive an actual request for assistance.

It does not make sense for the government/Navy to have disaster relief ships on high alert (like the Marines are for example). The cost of maintaining that high alert status is high and the money would be much better spent nearly providing a lot more (but a little less timely) aid and support. I am sure the Navy will help, just maybe not today or tomorrow.

Right now the problem actually seems to be logistics. You can use the Marines as first responders -- what you need are helicopters and landing craft, fuel, power, comms, food, and water, which are exactly what a combat force uses in an assault as well. By downloading weapons, they could take extra supplies for civilians, and their own support.

The deterrence point of doing it instantly is that you can show just how fast and how hard an amphibious force can deploy. That's pretty much the only value of an amphibious force like the doctrinal mission of the Marines anymore; they'll never do an opposed amphibious landing with a long lead up, due to ATGMs/etc. being so effective.

One of the best things the US Military has ever done for our national security in the war on terror was helping out pretty substantially after the Kashmir 2005 earthquake -- there were helicopters in the air hours after it hit, from the US and UK forces in Afghanistan.

Maybe not on high alert continuously, but with satellites now, they must have seen this hurricane coming for days if not weeks.

Nobody has mentioned Subic Bay Naval base with respect to the politics of sending in the Navy?


The last time we had ships stationed there, admittedly 20 years ago, they were VERY happy to see us go.

Yes, strictly humanitarian and all that, but...

The U.S. Navy makes port call at Subic Bay multiple times per year. I actually made a port call there as recently as 2008. Not to mention:


Even though we don't have any "permanent" bases (which is up for discussion) in the Philippines, we still have very strong military ties with them.

The link says the Marines are deploying from Okinawa.

"it would be a great humanitarian thing, plus a show of strength for one of our key Pacific allies"

Are you suggesting that there is excess money for something like this in the Navy budget? There are an unlimited number of things that we could do to make the world better and we can't do all of them. Like in business you have to undertake a cost/benefit analysis and see if it makes sense then to do or not. Not to mention how many people die in this country that would live if that money was spent here?

We do stupid exercises all the time which use more money than altering a patrol to go to the region and offloading water/food/fuel. The funding could be moved from usaid as well.

In general we should basically do anything do anything less than billions to win over Vietnam, PI, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and show our alliance with SK, Japan, and Taiwan, and build friendship with China. A billion invested in that probably is 10b in expected savings in avoiding future war.

That's an Americentric viewpoint. There's no need to "win over" anybody. If the US wants to regain trust and increase soft power, it should be helping based on genuine altruism and mutual respect, not for underlying political motives.

Don't be silly, even "genuine altruism" is still at best self-serving in the end.

"I do this good thing for you because it makes me feel better about my contribution to the world".

Likewise when the U.S. engaged in the Marshall Plan way back when, there were very obvious ulterior motives for the U.S. (a bulwark against Communist spread, expansion of the U.S. economy to supply our Western European allies, etc.), but that didn't invalidate the actual physical assistance rendered either.

"""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 primary constraint seems to be infrastructure to evacuate and shelter people. Reliable forecast of storm surge location and magnitude would save lives by allocating those resources to the correct places. Doing this well involves improved simulation methods, but also designing observational strategies, such as where to make more accurate measurements of bathymetry (one of the leading sources of uncertainty in storm surge and tsunami prediction). Disclaimer: I work in a related field and have colleagues that develop methods for storm surge forecast.

I've heard stories about some families who live in concrete houses decided not to evacuate, confident in being safe from the wind, only to drown in their own homes. :(

What would you suggest is a good system/set-up that would have made a difference here?

It's hard to say. You need large hurricane-proofed buildings in the higher barangays. As a person intimately familiar with the Tacloban/Leyte area, that's hard to accomplish since the area is so low-lying where it hit hardest.

The three biggest needs to prevent a large death-toll from something like this:

1. Education regarding effects of disasters (e.g. what a storm surge is, what areas are likely to be affected by landslides, etc.)

2. Basic first aid medication (having seen my fair share of misadventure in the Philippines, I can confidently say that a subsidized boy scout-style training program would work wonders there)

3. Instructions for putting together 72-hour crash bags, which should be kept in convenient locations (this is a good idea generally -- no matter where one lives a calamity could occur, and having copies of important documents/candles/matches/clean water can make a huge difference).

I came from the capital. My family lives beside Laguna lake in Taguig. Whenever there's a storm my village gets flooded (mainly due to poor flood control) and everything becomes hard in terms of dealing with your daily business. Obviously nothing in comparison to what Haiyan did to Tacloban city, but the panic induced by the thunder, the cold feeling from the rain, plus the fear of losing a lot from the waters and looters is still deeply etched in my brain.

Now I'm based in another country but I have lots of relatives in the area that was in the path of the storm. Also, this estimate came from just one area (although the worst hit). We are a hardy people but to get this every year coupled with the stress of knowing your officials are stealing a fair bit of what could have been used to help... well, kind of pulls you down.

What's worse is that these disasters have been happening regularly since 2009, when Typhoon Ketsana (known locally as Ondoy) struck the capital. What has the government done to really damage-proof the Philippines since? It was obvious right then that something like that would happen every year, and it did, yet there doesn't seem to be a concrete, long-term plan of action from the government.

Well, I was impressed to see they evacuated a large number of people this time, which hasn't always been the case. that doesn't sem like much but bear mind that the Philippines is a poor country, and second that it's essentially an archipelago made out of hundreds of small inhabited islands with fairly low average elevation (IIRC it's actually a few thousand islands, but not all of them are inhabited).

I'm not sure there's a whole lot you can do to 'damage proof' territory like this, other than simply abandoning outlying parts of it and hoping they act as a sea wall (and with a ~90m population, you also have the problem of where to put those people). Their options really are limited, especially in the face of record breaking weather events. Consider that if this storm had hit the Maldives it would almost certainly have wiped out the entire country, permanently.

US "news" is finally starting to cover this.

I mean 10K, that is just beyond devastating, it should be front page news for months. We lost 1800 with Katrina.

The 2004 Tsunami killed 250,000 people, and that only managed to stay on the news for a few weeks.

And a good portion of that news was "check out this interview with a Swedish couple saved from the wave" sort of stuff.

Oh my gosh I had no idea the final toll was that high.

That part of the world is being devastated.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey a total of 227,898 people died. Measured in lives lost, this it was one of the ten worst earthquakes in recorded history, as well as the single worst tsunami in history. Indonesia was the worst affected area, with most death toll estimates at around 170,000. However, another report by Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian Minister of Health at the time, estimated the death total to be as high as 220,000 in Indonesia alone, giving a total of 280,000 casualties.

It is also the fifth deadliest natural disaster since 1900.


A large proportion of those killed were children.

There were no deaths in The Philippines from the tsunami.


ck2, you are definitely an interesting character. You go on anti-military rants, have anti-gun posts, attack the Red Cross as corrupt, criticize the US news, but claim not to understand one of the worst modern natural disasters. I don't suppose you live in the New York City area? I get the feeling we could have quite a few long debates. :-)

This number is basically my whole town killed, twice.

I had a friend working in a news agency once. So I ask him for details about some nasty events in Africa - and why it is not news here (I had macabre fascination at the time with how bad stuff can get in Zimbabwe so I was interested in Africa above average. It managed to get even worse than I feared). His answer was devastating - "Oh it is Africa? My editor has forbidden me from publishing news about it if the body count is lower than 50000" ...

The problem is that there's usually not much new to report after a short period time. After 9/11, the broadcast and cable news channels went into non-stop 24/7 coverage with no commercials. After a week, they started doing commercials. Anchors expressed relief. Not only were they emotionally and physically exhausted, but the pace of actual news had slowed a lot and they were simply vamping to fill air time.

News is a tough problem. Editors don't want to put the same story on the front page with headline permutations because it will alienate readers. People supporting an agenda, or people who want coverage (brands and celebs), need to create news-worthy events to maintain coverage.

Totally agreed. The US (including the rest of the First world countries) has the means and the ability to do so much in the name of humanitarian efforts. It is sad to see these types of disasters fall by the wayside. Anyone still remember Puerto Rico?

I don't understand what you mean.

U.S. offers aid, sends teams to help typhoon-ravaged Philippines http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/09/world/asia/philippines-typhoon...

That was also posted Saturday, along with several other stories on US "news" sites, the same date as the Guardian article. So, the US should have reported this earlier? On Friday? Hehehe.

And I wouldn't describe this as falling by the wayside. The US is actively doing something. It seems whatever news sources you are reading aren't properly informing you?

But no, I understand, it's far easier to bash the US with meaningless slights while at the same time lamenting people focusing on other things. It's almost hypocritical.

>Anyone still remember Puerto Rico?

As a Puerto Rican in a thread about natural disasters I don't know what you're talking about.

Maybe he's remembering the 1918 earthquake? I don't know why the US would fail to help Puerto Rico, it's a US territory.

We do send what we can. Between government, charities and private donations, there's aid coming from the US.

We could send more, but a majority of the population is in debt or living check to check. (You could appeal to the folks that live in 27,000 sq ft houses and spend $300k annually on their electric bills, but they are busy doing more important things.)

Maybe that depends where you live? there's a lot of Phillippine people in the Bay Area, and it's been top of the news on NBC since Thursday night (ie before the storm made landfall).

Katrina was a convenient political football. The balanced truth was rarely, if ever, reported on. Then again, if they can make the case that somehow this typhoon is Bush's fault ...

Wow, that's an insane death toll. To put this in perspective, last year, another super typhoon, Pablo, killed close to 2000 I believe. The year before that another devastating typhoon, Sendong, killed something like 1200. The Philippines regularly gets hit with 20 typhoons each year and the typhoon season isn't over. Each of the above mentioned typhoons hit in December. This has to be among the deadliest in Philippines history and the season isn't even over yet.

I'm located in the southern end of Negros Oriental, which was under warning signal 3 (out of 4) but we were on the edge of the storm. We got off very light. If it weren't for the news, we wouldn't have even thought that we might be affected by a typhoon.

Unfortunately, the Philippines isn't like Japan, where the country can mobilize the resources to make the country highly resistant to it's own nemesis of nature, earthquakes. Many of the people here live in bamboo / wooden structures which stand no chance against a strong typhoon. The most vulnerable are also the poorest. In Dumaguete, minimum wage is the equivalent of $6 per day, but that's a well paying job. Most businesses here use loopholes to pay employees half the minimum wage. The people who have lost their entire towns in the Philippines have no resources, nothing to eat and nowhere to go. There is no no longer a functioning economy. All they can do is wait for help.

I don't know if this has anything to do with global warning, but in the five years I have lived here, our area has been hit with two devastating typhoons in the past three years. Before that, strong typhoons hitting our area were rare. Though we dodged this bullet, the above mentioned typhoons hit us head on. If this is something that the Philippines can regularly expect due to changes in weather, then large portions of the country could become unlivable without huge changes.

This is the sort of area where we could really use some innovation. Typhoons bring a double threat of high winds and floods. Add volcanoes and earthquakes (just a few weeks ago we got hit with a 7.2 earthquake) and the Philippines is among the most dangerous places to live on the planet. We need low cost structures which can shield people from high winds, floods and earthquakes. Sure, we can hide in a shelter, but we can't deal with the possibility of losing our house and possessions every year.

Edit: Changed tornado to typhoon.Facepalm

Edit2: Recovery also can take a long time in the Philippines. Not far from where I live is an area with temporary structures (basically a squatter area) which was setup to be temporary. A year later and this area is still full. I suppose Katrina was similar with the temporary housing situation, but in this case we are talking a flimsy bamboo / wooden structure with plastic tarps on the sides. These structures could easily get wiped out by one of the 20 yearly typhoons which hit the Philippines every year.

Also, the people of New Orleans at least have government safety nets. The mayor of our city, Dumaguete, set aside something like $9,000 as an emergency fund in anticipation of Yolanda. Like I said, not a lot of resources here.

> Many of the people here live in bamboo / wooden structures which stand no chance against a strong typhoon.

Compounding that, these strong storms are extremely hard to defend against. When I heard that Hayian was a strong Class 5 hurricane equivalent, it sent a chill down my spine. Perspective: I recall a homeowner returning to a non-waterfront home after one of the "big" Class 4's that hit southern Florida. His house was nominally still standing. The roof was gone, nothing was left inside except stick-sized debris. The non-support walls, framing, even the plumbing had all been destroyed. The paint had been scoured off of the cinderblock exterior support walls.

It's difficult to get one's head around the power and destructive capability of these storms.

In the US territory of Guam, essentially all structures made out of concrete.

Cinder blocks - yes, I believe that is mostly what they do there.

It is possible to adapt to typhoons. It does require resources.


I rode out Paka in '97 and I can appreciate the concrete structures. After the storm was over it looked like a war zone outside. Power was out for nearly 2 months.

I find it difficult to live in a wooden structure Stateside whenever storms arise. Ignorance is bliss.


I currently live in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.

The typhoon past us with about a distance of 190km from the eye and was anticipated to hit us first. We were issued with a signal 4 warning at Category 5 as it passed the northern parts around 2-3am. Yolanda didn't really make an real impact on the island - We only lost communications and electricity from about 9pm to 6pm the next day, had some minor roads flooded and little damage on property.

My best guess is that we got the backspin of the storm and was left with out great damage.

Before the storm past, tourists were leaving, locals were deciding to either stay or evacuate to higher grounds inland and expats tried to follow. There was problems leaving the island by boat because of the big waves and airplanes had already aborted landing on Monday. The risk was that either being hit by mudslides because of the expected 100mm rainfall, or being trapped inside of your house due the strong winds and storm surge.

Everyone seemed well informed and took appropriate action well before Yolanda would possibly hit us. We stocked up on water and food enough for a couple of days on Wednesday, on Thursday the concrete house i'm staying at got packed with people trying to get safe/shelter.

At night, Yolanda made its presence with wind and heavy rain, but thanks to low tide, we where lucky to stay un-flooded by the additional (reported) 5.5m sea-level rise.

A few hours later, it hit Tacloban/Samar (200km from us) and destroyed a lot in its path. The towns/islands where effected so hard because of high tide, which enabled the flooding.

I want to make clear that, the Government/Community/WeatherStations did a great job informing the residencies about the possible dangers.

A lot of people did evacuate, but as I said before, there was only choices between uncertainty available. I will mention that the locals here seem to have become accustom to the weather due to the ~20 typhoons/storms per year, and also seem to take it a bit lighter then they sometimes should. The weather can shift and the typhoons direction can change in an instant, hitting the least expected areas.

Im just hoping that the incoming storm wont make to difficult for the Philippines to recover! We are already preparing and are discussing possible options/evacuation plans.

My thoughts goes to those who have lost or are missing family and friends. Best regards

It seems like there are two separate things needed -- overall increase in wealth creation, and better survivability of structures (or at least shelters) at the current price points (or maybe in the price points somewhat above the current point.)

(I was looking at being in Cebu or Leyte for diving last week, but my ear was slightly sore so I went to Bangkok first instead. Pretty happy about that.)

The other thing that is needed is a revolt against the totally heinous levels of political corruption in the Philippines. Which will probably be a lot harder to do than better engineering.

Yes, yes! I am so glad somebody mentioned this. The political system in the Philippines is so rotten that it gets in the way of any intelligent, scientific solution ever proposed to every problem the country has. I personally think that that is the root problem here. I have no idea how to solve that, though.

Having lived in the Philippines and the U.S. I have this observation. The U.S. is not more or less corrupt that the Philippines. They just do it with more _style_. By that I mean, they are just better at hiding it.

I've also lived in both, and that's nonsense.

Rather than compare anecdotes though, look at some actual data: http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/results/

(USA is ranked 17; Philippines is 105. Lower is better.)

So do you mean to say that the Philippines should be in a condition just as good as the US? There are many variables unique to the political situation in the Philippines that US politics doesn't have, I'm not making excuses, but I also don't get your point.

Off topic but apparently your site's cert has expired: https://www.cryptoseal.com/

> It seems like there are two separate things needed -- overall increase in wealth creation, and better survivability of structures (or at least shelters)

I've always had this theory that one at least partial explanation for the differing economic states of different cultures is ability to properly assess risks and prepare for them accordingly. If every <x> years a typhoon is going to come along and wipe out <y>% of your infrastructure putting the affected regions of the country back to square one yet again, coming up with a workable solution to that should be a super high priority. If your work is constantly going into relatively persistent projects and you can minimize setbacks, standard of living constantly increases over time and generations.

Cindercrete blocks are the first thing that come to my mind, but maybe that's too expensive? Could some sort of reinforcement mechanism (perhaps anchored to the ground, providing strength but still allowing movement/flexibility) for bamboo huts be designed that uses affordable cabling such that they could withstand the force without disintegrating?

Personally, I'd be more likely to donate money if there was a specific engineering cause like this that I knew it was going to, rather than just general relief to recreate the same environment that will simply be wiped out again next time. Wrong way to think perhaps, but so be it. Charity success is partially a marketing problem, and this is a way to approach it that I think would have some success. If you could sponsor a specific family (as you can with children in Africa) for some housing upgrades, and get some photos in return, I think a lot of people over here with excess money might share a bit of it.

Yes, obviously I don't know all the parameters involved, and it's easy for me as a rich white male on the other side of the world to armchair quarterback, but I simply don't believe that everything that can be done is being done - over here we have our own solvable problems that we will never solve, for different reasons, so I don't think it's racist to believe that just perhaps, people in the Phillipines aren't undertaking the 100% optimal solution to their problems.

EDIT: I read below:

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.

Storm surges washing away even concrete structures.....now that's depressing. So now what? Can we affordably elevate everyone's shelter? But 6 metres? Not a chance. If 6m stomr surges are somewhat common, I just don't know how that are can be considered habitable. I have no idea if there is somewhere else those people could be relocated to. Oh man it's a tough problem.

If every <x> years a typhoon is going to come along and wipe out <y>% of your infrastructure putting the affected regions of the country back to square one yet again, coming up with a workable solution to that should be a super high priority.

This is correct. Yet Miami is hit by a hurricane every seven years on average, and they don't manage to move the power lines underground, instead preferring to hang the wire above ground again every time it's blown down, and charging the population for the privilege of having electric power. They also rebuilt New Orleans in areas where they shouldn't, and still cannot put proper sea defenses in where they ought to.

But when Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, was hit in 1970 by the great 1970 cyclone, the incident that triggered Independence, they managed to put in concrete storm shelters. These things helped to save many lives in the subsequent years.

Guys, anyone at home? Civil defense is a political problem, it seems.

I'd have to look at the cost comparison of overhead vs underground power lines, keeping in mind the presumably extreme levels of standards one would have to meet, but I would not be surprised at all if the decision was 100% based on right out in the open corruption. This is one of the problems we have over here that holds us back, and it is getting increasingly worse imho.

Another problem for poor nations is the initial capital cost complicating the decision of building cheap and fragile vs expensive and resilient. Sometimes they simply don't have the money. Sometimes they do but the genuine uncertainty of another typhoon of this magnitude makes it too difficult to make the commitment. Other times they're perhaps not even thinking in this way at all.

My understanding was that since Florida is essentially at sea level the water table was high enough that it would not be safe or practical to put electrical wires underground. Could be wrong though.

In Weston, FL, which was developed in the 1990 and really took off during the recent bubble the greater part of residential power lines are underground, and consequently they had little trouble after Wilma and Katrina. They are on the western edge of Miami-Palm Beach metro area, where the water table would be higher because of proximity to the Everglades.

I don't think this is an engineering problem. This is a political issue - it would be too difficult to find the money for the conversion, even more so, since in the US taxes are locally raised and spent. Try finding sufficient funds to get the work done in, say, Opa-Locka, or try to raise funds in Palmetto Bay to pay for Homestead.

"Florida is essentially at sea level"

Sea level goes up in a hurricane, way up. And the only thing worse than freshwater flood for underground wires is saltwater. And if the ground mounted transformers are flooded and destroyed you're losing power. And once power is cut, the power co can't just flip a switch without burning down the whole city, because flood damage means 0.1% of houses will catch fire and the fire dept is already busy with their own issues not to mention trees in the road and such.

Also it may well be that above ground lines and the higher damage/maintenance costs are still cheaper than acquiring easements and all the other costs of installing underground utility infrastructure.

Is it possible to reliably bury power lines in Florida? The ground is one big sea-level swamp.

Fortunately we missed it here in Manila also, this is very devastating for the country and it is going to be that way for some time. People without housing, food, water, and daily requirements.

You are from Manila? :D You remind of one of my favorite novels hehe, Cryptonomicon[1] a good part of the story takes place in Manila.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon

I was in a conference in Singapore recently and found myself chatting to some guys from Manila. When I - of course - asked them if they'd read Cryptonomicon, they all but rolled their eyes! Apparently they got asked that all the time. They hadn't read the book - the language is a bit dense, I admit - but were under the impression it was massively popular amongst hackers of a certain variety, which I suppose it is.

It's a fantastic book. I probably re-reread it once a year.

I'm from Manila, now working in Singapore. I've read Cryptonomicon two times already and enjoyed it immensely.

20 typhoons a year is a lot of typhoons! How did this land (through the course of history) ever become habitable? Or have the typhoons been increasing in frequency in the recent past?

Typhoons are usually not that bad, it just means a lot more rain in an already very rainy country. Traditionally it was dealt with stilt houses and so on. Today you would just deal with it by having houses elevated about 6m and your first floor being able to withstand flooding for the worse possible typhoons, which means a stone floor and a concrete house.

I'm also in Dumaguete. gavhug at gmail com.

Gavin? I have been in contact with you already. I didn't know you were still around though. Are you still doing the Ruby meetups?

Edit: Yep, that's you. I have you in my contacts list. I will send you another email. ;)

Edit Edit: And yes, for those of you reading this comment, this is an indication of how small the tech world here is, even in a decent sized city in the Philippines.

I like Dumaguete City, have been there several times. I remember crusing down Rizal Boulevard with my girl, stopping to pick up some "silvanas" from Sans Rival. Really refreshing when it gets hot. Then hopping on the ferry to Bohol. Those were the days...


To put things into context. 1.3 million people die and 50 million people are injured in car accidents every year.

Nature disasters are just side show in human life at this point.

That doesn't put things in any useful context. Each car wreck is an isolated incident. Societies are relatively well-equipped to deal with these incidents: first responders come out, injured are taken to hospital, the dead go to the morgue, where they are buried in a routine fashion. The next of kin are affected, but their lives proceed in a society which has retained its usual level of function, with employment continuing, transportation networks operating, and food supply lines functioning normally. This is all true even for the most massively awful freeway pileups that occur in dense fog.

In a disaster of this nature, supply lines are wiped out. Hospitals are gone. First responders, to the extent there are any, are overwhelmed. It's hard to get food. Sanitary systems, to the extent they existed in the first place, are gone. Communication systems are gone. This is all going to have incredible impact, even in a less-developed country. The disaster affects entire communities for several years at least. No car wreck has this sort of impact.

Side show?

Sure, death happens in large numbers every day. Why mourn these 10,000 deaths any more than any other deaths from around the world? We probably shouldn't. Because death is natural and unavoidable, it isn't necessarily tragic by itself.

Your community, your system, is able to absorb the deaths which happen within that community. People in your community die from old age, traffic accidents, disease and many other ways, but the wheels of the system keep spinning. In the case of the Philippines, the recent tsunamis and other large scale natural disasters, entire communities were obliterated. These systems have completely broken down. In Leyte, 10,000 people died, but the system which supported tens of thousands more living is broken.

The local economy for many of these people has been pushed back to the stone ages. The rich still have their bank accounts intact. They can jump on a plane and start over somewhere else. The poor don't have this option. There is no functioning system there to support the people who have to stay there. They have nothing to eat, no money for medicine, nowhere to live and they are completely dependent on a government with relatively little resources. Restoring this system will take months if not years. Many people will never fully recover. Future generations will get held back from what they could have been. There's not much of a safety net here.

ETA: And sure, the ripples of this shock won't go much further than the borders of the Philippines. But I think Fukishima might be a good counter to your "natural disasters as a side show" argument. We don't yet know how much this disaster will affect us. It could do serious long term damage to the ecosystem of the Pacific ocean. Could the world see mass cancer from eating fish in the Pacific ocean?

This does not put things into context at all. You do realize that this is a single event, localized in a single region of the world, right?

This is equivalent the population to small neighborhood all dying at once. In addition to destruction caused.

Regardless of the cause, large amounts of loss of human life in a single event are still considered significant. The reverberating effects throughout the neighboring communities are perhaps most noticeable. You are removing an entire node from a graph, rather than individual leaves.

That's not a very helpful context. Lots of people die every year from relatively low-risk activities they choose to participate in, and those deaths don't typically involve the destruction of the entire community support structure in the process.

In other words, the deaths in the Philippines are bad enough, but there are millions of people still alive and put into great distress as we speak. And it's not as if it's their fault (which was the argument brought up for Katrina as well...), it's not as if they can be safe if they move to Japan (as if there were either the funding or political will for that).

This comparison is outrageous. Speaking of things out of context, fewer than three thousand people died in 9/11[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11...

Exactly wrong. The response to the acts of war on 9/11 are disingenuous, and not commensurate with the impact. The costs we as citizens pay for a false sense of security are orders of magnitude more than the risk presented. It is sad these people in the Phillipines died. We should help the survivors and we should help the survivors be able to withstand future problems by building better safer infrastructure and other methods. But, this is a normal event in human culture, the comparison is not outrageous, it is simply scientifically accurate. The author's choice of the word sideshow is callous, but objectively somewhat accurate. To those involved or effected by this - it's anything but a sideshow, which is where relative perspective comes in. We should have sympathy and help - but help in all ways.

Well, that's the whole point - if some USA politician really wanted to protect Americans, then it would be appropriate to direct more effort towards traffic and obesity, and ignore 9/11.

The same is in this situation - while help is needed in restoring the communities and sheltering survivors; in the long run anyway those "common killers" should be a priority for the same Philippines communitities, not overly focusing on typhoon-safety.

And the 10 000 dead isn't the number that should be emphasised above others - the main pain in this disaster is the millions of wounded and displaced; I wouldn't be surprised if the death toll of these displacement consequences (malnutrition, disease, etc) is larger than from the initial impact.

It sounds like their entire community and economy is devastated.

If disaster taps on your neighborhood window, I suspect you would sing a different tune.

Precisely my point. This is localized catastrophe. For us, it has less effect than car accident happening to our neighbor.

Because the people who died were poor, this accident adds net positive emotional entertainment value to the life of typical consumer.

What's your favorite Ayn Rand novel?

The Fountainhead

Another point I made in my first comment is that in my area, typhoons were rare. Even though we get hit with around 20 per year, my area typically dodges all of them. Yet, in the past two years we have had two devastating typhoons. One was the equivalent of a cat 5 hurricane and the other was just as deadly with less winds but more flooding. Yolanda is was the most powerful storm in recorded history, which is obviously a rarity. If this all points to a trend, perhaps due to something like global warming, then we will all be affected. Perhaps this is just a preview of more to come in a far less comfortable world for everyone. Natural disasters and environmental problems may be moving from side show to center stage. The positive entertainment might take a turn to horror show.

'Adds net positive emotional entertainment value' ???

Seriously, WFT?

You think the news networks are not rubbing their hands about this? They LOVE a good disaster especially if it happens in an impoverished area.

> Because the people who died were poor, this accident adds net positive emotional entertainment value to the life of typical consumer.

Not to be cynical, but I imagine if they were rich celebrities it'd add even more dubious 'entertainment' value.

That doesn't make this any less significant. Besides, something in the neighborhood of 9.5m were affected by this typhoon and the season isn't even over.

If 10000 people died in a single highway pileup, everyone would assume there was a problem.

Depends on geographic concentration and many other things though.

> To completely remove all context […]

Fixed that for you.

My wife is in Vietnam and I've been worried for days about where the typhoon would go (South or North). Its silly but I'm relieved it's avoiding the South.

When I was telling her about the storm, I realized that people are that more exposed to natural disasters since they don't usually store food. At least in her surrounding, people buy food off the market everyday and don't have reserves, leaving them completely exposed to any disaster affecting food supplies.

U.S. military will support typhoon recovery efforts in various ways.

The U.S. military announced that Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed troops to support these humanitarian missions. That includes deploying aircraft for search-and-rescue missions, bringing in aid and providing logistical support.

The U.S. force will be led by Marines out of Okinawa, Japan, according to two U.S. military officials. Other military services will participate.


It was clear days before landfall that this was a huge storm; the ships should have already been enroute, and other supplies staged in Guam and Okinawa.

Wouldn't travelling from Okinawa to Philippines have put those ships in the path of the storm?

Not quite, japan is north of the Philippines and the storm hit the southern end. Still, I'm sure with a storm that large, it would make for a rough trip.

I really hope they are better prepared next time, because there will definitely be another super storm typhoon like this. And I hope when they rebuild new structures in these coastal areas, they will be higher and stronger to withstand these things.

People there are always prepared, they know that it's typhoon season around this time of the year. But there's only so much preparation you can do with the money they have.

Plus they had an earthquake recently, so some of this was already weakened by that.

This could have clearly been avoided. See what India did with Phalin, with an early warning system and planned evacuation: http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/10/13/india-cyclone-phail...

Less than 20 people died.

It is a credit to the states that could put 1 million people into shelters for Phalin, but we don't know all the circumstances so we should not unnecessarily criticize.

I wouldn't say that like it's that easy. Not a good time to talk politics, but I think that the long history of corruption in the government has a lot to do with the unpreparedness for the disasters (including the preceding earthquake). In fact, there's an ongoing senate hearing on a pretty high-profile scam involving congressmen and, well, the senators themselves (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priority_Development_Assistance...).

How this could have been avoided is likely a touchy subject at the moment. Even the president walked out of his meeting with the local officials to cool his head off from great dismay.

I don't know, there are a lot of variables. As someone else mentioned, not only was this storm stronger, but it was at the theoretical maximum strength that a storm could be. So, it's possibly among the strongest ever to hit land.

You can't get good info from the news and of course any government will has its own agenda to look good. Getting good data from 3rd world countries is also hard.

We took a direct hit (eye passed over the city) from what was at one time the equivalent of a cat 5 hurricane (Pablo) in the southern part of Negros Oriental in the Philippines last year. I don't know what strength it was by the time it got to us, but the winds were pretty damn scary. Fortunately, this typhoon was mostly wind and not much rain. The typhoon created a mess, but we were largely back to normal in one day.

The year previous to Pablo, we got hit by Sendong which seemed like the opposite of Pablo. There wasn't much wind, but the rain was heavy and steady for something like 10 hours. That rain created much more destruction and lost lives than the winds from Pablo.

So, each typhoon has its own personality. You can't do an apples to apples comparison from one storm to another. It's typical of media to make such a comparison.

The Philippines also has some logistical difficulties that India may not have. It's an archipelago of over 7,000 islands and a very poor country. India has its poor areas also, but the nation as a whole has far more resources.

The Philippines did make an effort to evacuate people and clearly the nation could have better prepared. There is always more that you can do. I don't know how this area in India compares to the Philippines, but we get hit with an average of something like 20 typhoons every year. The Philippines is among the most dangerous places on the planet for natural disasters.

Shelters a great for saving lives, and that's the most important, but it also sucks to lose your house and all your belongings. If someone is looking for a world changing innovation, then figuring out a way to make a cheap structure which could withstand the sorts of natural disasters that the Philippines gets hit with regularly would be huge.



> Most of the deaths appear to have been caused by surging seas that resembled a tsunami, flattening buildings and drowning hundreds, according to Reuters.

This supports what I mentioned earlier. The wind is bad, but in a typhoon, it's water which really ratchets up the number of casualties. Comparing winds speeds of two different typhoons isn't necessarily comparing the most destructive components.

Thank you for this.

It's easy to make armchair judgements and comparison when not armed with all the facts.

The truth is, the country will always have issues (bureaucracy, corruption, etc) dealing with these natural disasters, but combatting poverty will go much further in avoiding loss of life. The vast majority of those affected have a hand to mouth existence and have basically no choice but to live in areas that put them in the highest risk (low lying, coastal, flood prone) in structures that are all but guaranteed to fail in a storm.

Typhoon Haiyan is much bigger and much stronger. The wind was reported at 195 mph with 235 mph gusts. This kind of wind destroys everything on its way, peels asphalt off the roads, removes soil, etc.

Phailin maxed out at 160 mph.

That's quite a lot of difference.

The wind was reported at 195 mph with 235 mph gusts

That's insane. I'm sure it would rip out most testing equipment. I've seen the damage from similar micro-bursts (<200mph) in the US and nothing is left standing. And I mean nothing alive. Complete devastation. It would look like thos pictures from when the meteor hit Siberian in the early 20th century. A mess of matchsticks.


edit: updated info

Haiyan attained its peak intensity with ten-minute sustained winds of 235 km/h (145 mph)

one-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) and gusts up to 378 km/h (235 mph)

Still a record, but the sustained winds are more in the mid 100's rather than approaching 200. Immensely strong peak gusts. 10 minutes of that at peak energy must have seemed like a lifetime. There is no natural shelter in these situations. Truly, truly dangerous.

Edit2: like here> http://forums.mammothmountain.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=12869...

I don't know that meteorologists have been able to collect all the data yet. A lot of what you are seeing in the news reports is probably info regurgitated from who knows what sources. Just as with the death toll, it will take time to come up with official numbers. As you mentioned, that could be difficult if the testing equipment couldn't handle the forces.


> Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines at 4am local time today with winds near 195 mph, making it the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded world history, according to satellite estimates. That astounding claim will need to be verified by actual measurements at ground level, which should be collected over the coming days.

> The storm (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) has officially maxed out the Dvorak scale, which is used to measure strong strength using satellites. That means Haiyan has approached the theoretical maximum intensity for any storm, anywhere. From the latest NOAA bulletin:

Here is a wikipedia link to the Dvorak scale.


Yes it is. I'm hearing of reports that measuring equipment actually failed because they maxed out. They say there are actually some things they can't give an accurate measurement of because the equipment burst.

It seems much equipment is not designed to go above 150ish, and once you get above that nothing's left... Take for example:


Right now the important things needed are hospital ships, helicopters, medical supplies, drinking water, food and shelters... I feel so helpless donating just cash, so many lives need to be helped.

Regarding 'just cash', I would like to quote the Red Cross:

"The best way to help a disaster victim is through a financial donation to the Red Cross. Financial contributions allow the Red Cross to purchase exactly what is needed for the disaster relief operation. Monetary donations also enable the Red Cross to purchase relief supplies close to the disaster site which avoids delays and transportation costs in getting basic necessities to disaster victims. Because the affected area has generally experienced significant economic loss, purchasing relief supplies in or close to the disaster site also helps to stimulate the weakened local economy."


Do not freaking donate to the Red Cross.

Find a local charity.

The Red Cross is HORRIBLY inefficient and wasteful. Your money is buying them furniture.

Firstly you can't throw claims like that around without a source, secondly I don't think now is the time to make FUD about which charity to donate to, thirdly that's tangential to what I was quoting (that cash is better than goods), and fourthly http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/10/typhoon-haiyan-...

edit: fifthly: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary...

Maybe they behave better in other parts of the world, but the Red Cross in the USA is everyone's knee-jerk reaction to throw money at, and they have many many issues:




(note all the resignations are different people!)



and there was a huge scandal where they used emergency fund donations to buy furniture for their offices - having trouble finding it right now

The controversies linked in the Wikipedia article seem pretty ho-hum for an organization the size of the Red Cross. Stuff like credit checks of volunteers, following the FDA's (stupid) rule on blood from homosexual males, a dispute with Johnson + Johnson, etc. hardly support the allegation of mass corruption in the group.

It pays my neighbour who is a nurse to go and work in Syria. It doesn't get much more direct than that.

I hire some people in the Philippines via oDesk. They are friendly, honest, hard working, trustworthy (I bought them a laptop and Kindle), speak English pretty well, and cost less than people in the US who do similar jobs, even if I believe I am paying them pretty well by local standards.

Luckily for them, they are far away from where the typhoon hit, but in terms of moving some money there, providing some work for people has funneled several orders of magnitude more cash into the country than what I could provide as charity.

+1 ~ I used to have two ladies in the Philippines do a little part-time research work for me via oDesk for my previous job. The were absolutely fantastic. Every time a disaster strikes there (which is frequent) I touch base to make sure they're ok. I can't recommend hiring some Filipinos to help augment a local team enough. It's a way to increase your own efficiency and help raise their standard of living at the same time.

Drinking water is mostly solvable if there's an aircraft carrier nearby: http://blogs.wsj.com/dispatch/2010/01/16/aircraft-carrier-pu...

Getting it beyond the port is the hard part, but carriers have a few tools that might help with that.

Nearly 480,000 people were displaced and 4.5 million "affected" by the typhoon in 36 provinces, the national disaster agency said, as relief agencies called for food, water, medicines and tarpaulins for the homeless.


Is there anything more one can do than donate money?

If you are trying to find someone in the Philippines in the aftermath of the typhoon, you can try using one of these sources:

PeopleLocator (https://pl.nlm.nih.gov/)

Google PersonFinder (http://google.org/personfinder/2013-yolanda/query?role=seek)

alternate source for Google PersonFinder (http://google.org/personfinder/global/home.html)

Red Cross request for help restoring contact (http://familylinks.icrc.org/en/pages/home.aspx)

If you would like to donate, here are some organizations that could use your help:

Red Cross Philippines (http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate) via Paypal

Ayala Foundation's 'Laging Handa Fund' (Always Ready), overseas donors can use this online portal(http://feedthehungryphil.org/ayala-foundation-inc/) for donations

GlobalGiving.com(http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/philippines-disaster-re...). Credit and debit card donations accepted.

Save the Children (http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.885610...). Save the Children has a team on the ground in Tacloban working to respond to this emergency.

Now, unfortunately we wait for lack of sanitation, clean water and associated disease to take their much higher toll.

The situation report has the following information: 2,055,630 families or 9,497,847 persons were affected.

The number of confirmed casualties is still low, at 229. This number will inevitably increase drastically when response efforts proceed and communication lines are repaired.

The number of damaged houses is currently at 19,551 (13,191 have been totally destroyed)

A state of calamity has been declared in the province of Antique, as well as in Janiuay and Dumangas in the province of Iloilo

Flooding, landslides, and fallen trees blocked several roads, but most are now passable thanks to ongoing clearing operations *Several networks are still down but are in the process of being restored

We at Remitly are pitching in by waiving all fees for donations sent to the Red Cross. Please spread the word and donate via www.remitly.com directly to Red Cross Philippines. We have pre-filled all their bank info etc for your convenience.

News reports before the typhoon hit said 4000 people had been evacuated. Why only 4000? Lack of resources?

Now that the typhoon has devastated the philippines, the international community is sending aid, money, resources. Why can't the same be done before a disaster like this hits? I'm sure the millions pouring in now could have gone a long way to evacuate people or set up shelters, dams, pumps, before it killed 10,000+

And for the financially minded bureaucrat, I'd guess preventive measures would possibly cost less as well.

I've actually read about over a million people evacuated and in shelters.


Sadly, it seems international aid is more efficient at post-event response. The government tried to mobilize as well as it was able, but that will never be enough. (See: Katrina, japan earthquake/tsunami).

I still have friends I haven't heard from, and have friends who haven't heard from their family. The days of shocked reflection after disasters are always filled with what-ifs and fruitless hindsight. I agree with rdl above that innovations have to be made but most importantly a plan for better wealth creation for the country's poorest who are often the hardest hit. In these modern times, it shouldn't take 10,000 lives to spur that on.

It is a human problem. Humans live in areas where the scientific community knows certain disasters will eventually hit, sometime. It is hard to convince someone to allocate $100 now to save $1000 later, because it is later. You don't see the result now and might not in your lifetime and the prospect of "it probably won't happen" is easy to justify.

and yes prevention costs less almost always.

Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation is accepting donations via http://brickbybrick.pdrf.org/yolanda here's the rest of the info on how you can help: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/43300-relief...

I donated a bit to: https://www.wfp.org/donate/typhoon

This thing needs lots of help now.

can someone who is better informed than me compare the typhoon a few weeks back in orissa, India with 12 casualties and this one.

note - this isn't a rhetoric. I genuinely want to understand what is the reason for such a massive difference. I have financial interests in that exact part of India and actually have been thinking that the govt is pretty well prepared (given, well that it is India).

I mentioned this in another thread, but I will regurgitate it here.

I don't consider myself well informed. But I live in the Philippines and I have been in a high wind, light flooding typhoon and a low wind high flooding typhoon. Of the two, the high flooding typhoon caused a lot more damage and loss of life.

You can't make apples to apples comparisons on typhoons. Wind speed isn't necessarily the most destructive factor. Wind creates a lot of damage, but its flooding which creates high casualty counts. The devastating tsunamis we have recently seen is a great example of this.

From this article.


> Most of the deaths appear to have been caused by surging seas that resembled a tsunami, flattening buildings and drowning hundreds, according to Reuters.

It's certainly possible that the region you mentioned in India was better prepared, but I'm guessing that the flooding was worse in the 1999 storm.

The Philippines typhoon was among the strongest to ever hit hand. It neared the theoretical maximum strength of a typhoon. One of the methods used to measure the strength of a typhoon is the Dvorak scale which goes up to 8. At the peak of the storm, it hit 8 and they could no longer measure it. They could only estimate that it went up to as much as 8.2.


Why is there a theoretical maximum strength for a typhoon? What limits them?

I suppose, It's about the environment. There are many factors to consider.

First, logistically speaking, transport, supply and communication lines in the Philippines are hard to establish because we're an archipelago of 7,000+ islands. The unique geography makes it hard for mass evacuations. Go to high areas, suffer landslides and wind damage, stay low, storm surges wipe you out.

I don't know much about the Indian typhoon season, but the Pacific typhoon season, since the 90's on average, starts at January-March and ends at November-December: it doesn't stop. Fortunately we've had good years, such as the 1998 storm season, the first storm system formed started in July at that time. On average, most of the Pacific storm systems hit us every 3 weeks, there are certain months where parts of the country get hit by a typhoon every other week. So almost all resources are poured into constantly getting supply lines and shelters re-established.

Given this, we Filipinos have been taught, even the children, to consider typhoons to be normal and to have their distinct personalities to look out for. I remember back in 2009 that we took a direct hit with Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy). It wasn't expected to deal that much damage since Hurricane strength is generally associated with wind speed, the measured wind speed wasn't that high. What we didn't we know was that it brought 454.9 mm rainfall in the Metropolis, flooding rural areas in our capital region as high as 4-6meters. Uncertainty is high, resources are low, the islands of Samar and Leyte got hit badly: the eyewall brought in the surge from the east and when the storm passed by, the tail surged the sea inward from the west.

Also, it's hard to get good data. Info and news from the media and government are unorganized, each have their own databases, and not to mention, their own agendas to look good.

Majority of Filipinos consider the lack of financial resources as the biggest factor due to politics and corruption. As mentioned in the comments above, the mayor of the city of Dumaguete can only set aside something like $9,000 USD. Not a lot of resources, considering that's just enough to buy a car here in the Philippines.

The lack of resources and wealth, the difficulty of re-establishing supply lines sets up an environment for such casualties despite preparations.

One important thing to note is that cyclone hit Orissa at low tide. Floods, more than wind speed, seem to be the the important factor. There was flooding some time after Phailin in Andhra Pradesh due to heavy rains and the casualty count was much higher than the cyclone itself. That said, the Orissa government did a good job. There was a terrible cyclone ten years ago with huge devastation, and this time they organized mass evacuations. Hope the disaster relief is strong and the Filipinos get all the help that they will be needing.

The Boston Globe has a great series of photographs of the aftermath:


And we all knew for a very long time now that this kind of disaster is due to climate change.

And we all don't seem to care at all. At least not enough to changer our patterns of consumption.

For those looking to help, if you know the area or are an experienced mapper, http://tasks.hotosm.org

Does anyone know if Batangas (more specifically: Nasugbu) was hit badly?

It wasn't hit badly

Are you there right now?

Im from neighboring provice of laguna and i think storm signal for batangas only reach signal no. 2

Laguna was signal #1, right? I hope everything is OK where you are. My brother and his family live in Nasugbu, I haven't been able to get in touch for a few days - but then again they might be traveling right now so nobody knows if they were even home.

How can we help this disaster as software engineers? Any ideas?

Long term:

Have a look at websites like this, and see if you can make them better. http://reliefweb.int/ Better means lots of things, but "easier to use with very low or intermittent bandwidth"; "easier to use for an international audience" etc.

Take the most important Wikipedia articles (where "importance" is about STEM education) and polish them into the very best they can be, with clear easy to understand text and nice examples and best diagrams. Translate these to different languages. (Whatever is used in areas that need them, so I guess Spanish, French, Portuguese, and whatever.) This might require a form from WP.

Investigate charities that do good work. Donate to those charities. Good work means different things to different people, but probably includes "doesn't spend too much of its funds on luxury offices and big wages" and "makes a change, doesn't just continue cycles of deprivation".

Research and promote low power computing. Most people have huge computers for what they actually do. Really, using social media, watching a few cat videos, and writing the occasional letter do not need gigabytes of RAM and 3 GHz quad core processors. Help with low resource Open Source projects. Never mind LXDE and XFCE, most people would be fine with JWM or IceWM. Moving people from 100 Watt desktop machines to 8 W arm (or similar) nettops would be useful for climate change.

There's bound to be some interesting but difficult to access research work around distribution - distribution of money and resources within organisations and from those orgs to the places where they're needed. Stuff crossing boundaries is an opportunity for loss. Those boundaries include geographical borders but also include regulatory boundaries for organisations. Visualisations of the journey of a donated dollar through the bureaucracies to the final endpoint would be fascinating, and possibly enraging, for many people.

Vote for people who don't do stupid things to developing nations.

Be careful when donating hardware to charity recycling. Often anything usable is sold off, with the junk being sent to places like the e-waste dump in Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana. Here's a programme and a clip about that dump. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sch78) (http://videobam.com/rcEUM)

thanks for the great answer

Cheap, easy-to-assemble, open source technologies that will help communities to protect themselves will really change the world :-(

Unless you can open source a few billion cubic meters of concrete it would have done fuck all.

Assuming concrete is the only solution to the problem.

When the problem is essentially damming a 100-mile wide river, yea, it's pretty much the only solution. Again, the damage here was the tsunami-scale storm surge, not so much the wind.

how about a humblebundle/indieroyale/indiegala/gog Haiyan bundle?

I am from Negros Occidental, Philippines and we were spared from the destruction of Haiyan. But me and my family are continually praying for more help for the victims especially for those who lost their families. We are also thankful for people from other nations who extended their help. Filipinos will stand up and rise again! God bless us all!

I'll just leave this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzxTXk1JCFw

To Americans: Is this even legit?

The data is there, everybody and check it and get its own conclusions. The one I get is disturbing


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