Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan has been described as the strongest storm (hurricane) in recorded history to make landfall. According to current estimates the death toll is around 10,000 people, and if confirmed will be the largest disaster to hit the Philippines. The storm left devastation across its path, leaving approx. 1 million people homeless and extensive damages to infrastructure. Some places are still unreachable as bridges and roads were destroyed so the full breadth of the storm’s impact is still unknown.

Tacloban, a city of nearly 220,000 has suffered the most extensive damage due to its geographic location and the storm’s path and most of it was leveled to the ground.

Typhoon Haiyan Population by municipality in the path of the typhoon (as of 09 Nov 2013). mapaction.org

The president of the Philippines has declared a state of calamity in order to transfer and shift resources to assist in the huge relief efforts. The military has sent soldiers to distribute food and water to the survivors. International relief efforts are coordinated through the UN with a number of humanitarian relief delegations and other countries have pledged to donate money.

Official Twitter of the Republic of the Philippines

The IDF is sending today (November 13, 2013)  a 148 member delegation for the Philippines, Wednesday in order to provide search, rescue, and medical services in the Typhoon-struck city of Tacloban, capital of the Leyte Province. 

This delegation is sent following the departure of the IDF’s exploratory expedition, which was tasked with assessing the damages and required resources before a full relief delegation is flown over from Israel. A similar exploratory expedition was sent to Haiti following the large earthquake in 2010, which found the location for the field hospital later deployed.

Follow #IDFinPhilippines on Twitter
See images Before and After

According to the IDF Blog, “an advanced multi-department medical facility, equipped with approximately 100 tons of humanitarian and medic supplies from Israel, will be rapidly established in the city of Tacloban to provide medical care for disaster casualties. The facility will be constructed of a children’s department, a women’s department, an ambulatory care department, and a general admission department, operated by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technician, and lab workers.”

IDF-delegation to the Philippines

Social media has been playing an ever increasing part in the response to emergencies. During the Haiyan typhoon Twitter was massively used by the public in the Philippines, but also by the various government offices and emergency authorities. Twitter was used to provide situational awareness updates, risk communication and calling for donations and volunteers.

Click here for currents tweets from the Philippines.

Furthermore, government agencies have published many photos and visual information from the field making the devastation visible to the entire world. In contrast to the Philippines where there is free press, in Vietnam there is a state wide censorship so the use of Twitter was mainly used by tourists and people from outside the country. Social media have become a crucial life line to survivors and also for a resilient infrastructure to support two-way communications with emergency authorities during disasters.

Photos from the Philippines published on Twitter.

According to Mashable, “Google launched several crisis tools for those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.  Resources include a person finder to help individuals search for the status of a person affected by the disaster. Users can click on “I’m looking for someone” and insert a name; those who have personal information can click “I have information about someone” to insert that data.

Google also launched a relief map for affected areas, providing updates on shelters, command centers and communications posts. The map can be embedded on any site (see below).