Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘tsunami’

Super Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan

I’m writing you from the Philippines where I’m managing CARE’s ongoing response to Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Relief Efforts Continue After Typhoon Haiyan's DestructionThe situation we’re dealing with on the ground is unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my 20 plus years as an emergency response specialist.

My team of seasoned veterans and I delivered life-saving aid after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, and the drought-stricken Horn of Africa in 2011.

haiyan-e4-debrisBut none of those disastrous events were as challenging as this one. The remoteness, flooding and debris everywhere in the affected areas means that simple journeys can take days. The widespread magnitude of the damage means limited to no access by land or air and no lines of communication or electricity up and running.

There are pictures below, but they don’t truly capture the experience on the ground: the smell, the complete destruction in every direction you look, the heavy rain, the continuous exhaustion because there is nowhere for anyone to sleep, debris everywhere. And – worst of all – the desperate look in the eyes of survivors.

They’re hungry and they’ve been hungry for days. The food is just gone, picked clean.

It’s truly awful. We need your help. You can help us put food, shelter, and necessities in the hands of Filipinos and others in need.

Within the next 48 hours, we’ll be distributing food to thousands of families outside of Ormac City. Frankly, it’s frustrating that we can’t get supplies to more survivors more quickly. We plan to help an initial 150,000 storm survivors with the support of donors like you. Food and shelter are our current priorities.

Coordinating the response to Super Typhoon Haiyan has been so much more challenging than Haiti. It’s not even that the weather is horrible or that today’s office/sleeping space lost its roof and flooded out.

Communication during emergency response is critical, but here the electricity is down, the phone lines aren’t working, there is no internet. Thank goodness for our satellite phones.

In Haiti, communication was back up very quickly. And the earthquake was in a small area, so once the rubble was cleared, it was easy to drive and deliver aid. We could get everywhere affected in two or three hours. The airport was up and functioning quickly, so supplies could be brought by air, or road from the Dominican Republic.

Here in the Philippines, the disaster is spread over several islands. It takes days to get to places – not only for relief items, but for staff. You have to take a boat, and then a car, and the road hasn’t been cleared. The government and international community are working to clear the roads and open the airport, but it is taking time.

Once it does, we know what we need to do to help. I only hope you’ll be there during this critical time to support our response. Donate to CARE right away to help with disaster relief efforts in the Philippines and other places impacted by crisis and poverty.

Sincerely,

David Gazashvili
CARE Emergency Team Leader

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Superb Story and Scribe

0670026638.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_A Tale for the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books

“Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being is one of the best novels of 2013—and will surely inhabit that position for years to come.”

However you envision or conceptualize life, you will never see it quite the same once you’ve read this brilliant story. “Brilliant” is a strong and suggestive superlative, but it fits this story like the insistent tolling of a bell calling for one’s attention.

Down to earth and intellectual. Filled with judgments and acceptance, separateness and interdependence. Complicated, yet simple. Ms. Ozeki’s characters question their thoughts, feelings, and actions—even how they respond to suffering. They ask whether their choices and lives make a difference, what is the meaning of conscience, and how to explain the nature of existence—and they do so in the pages of a beautiful tale of families struggling to survive, understand, and share their love.

Ruth, a novelist who lives on an island in British Columbia with her husband Oliver, happens upon a diary she finds in a sealed lunchbox she discovers among some kelp that’s washed to shore. The diary is that of a sixteen year old in Tokyo, Japan, named Nao.

As Ruth begins to read the diary—which describes Nao’s family, her thoughts of suicide, and her close connection with her 104-year-old great grandmother Jiko (who is a Buddhist nun living in the area of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami)—we are pulled into Ruth’s thoughts and feelings about what she is reading as well as its impact on her, her husband, and others living on the island.

Every person, animal, life form, building, city, town, and forest in this story feels real and congruent. You can almost reach into the book and pet the cat, yell at the bullies, shake Nao’s father, hear the wind, see the crow take flight, and feel the ancient, chilly, wooden temple floor beneath your knees as you bow.

There are so many exquisite lines of prose within A Tale for the Time Being, that it is difficult to choose a few that will give readers’ a taste of this sweet, caustic, entertaining, and captivating novel. Nonetheless, here are a few morsels.

When Ruth first reads the diary, she describes the letters. “They were round a little bit sloppy (as she now imagined the girl must be, too), but they stood more or less upright and marched gamely across the page at a good clip, not in a hurry, but not dawdling, either.”

Nao writes of a moment when she is holding Jiko’s hand. “I was still thinking about what she said about waves, and it made me sad because I knew that her little wave was not going to last much longer and soon she would join the sea again, and even though I know you can’t hold on to water, still I gripped her fingers a little more tightly to keep her from leaking away.”

Ruth speaks of time and how it interacts with attention. “At the other extreme, when her attention was disengaged and fractured, she experienced time at its most granular, wherein moments hung around like pixels, diffused and suspended in standing water.”

It sounds like Haiku poetry when Jiko is telling Nao about her son (Nao’s great uncle) who died in World War II. “A single frog croaked, and then another. Jiko’s words dropped like stones into the silence in between.” Jiko explains to Nao (who had told Jiko about it feeling like there were fish flopping around in her stomach when she felt grief or was being bullied) that the loss of her son was like a whale in her gut and she was learning to open her heart so the whale could swim away.

A Tale for the Time Being is more than a lovely piece of literature; it also explores science, philosophy, nature, history, psychology, biology, physics, Japanese culture, and the nature of consciousness. There is also a healthy dose of Buddhism and meditation thrown in with subtle precision integrated into the characters and storyline without dissemblance or force.

Read complete review and others, at New York Journal of Books.

How to Help Japan

Here are some ways you can help the people of Japan recover from the worst earthquake and tsunami in their recorded history.

The Red Cross has already launched efforts in Japan. Go to Redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.

Save the Children has responded. Donations can be made to its
Children’s Emergency Fund.

To donate or learn about additional ways to contribute to the medical response, go to Internationalmedicalcorps.org. You can also text MED to 80888 from your mobile phone to give $10.00.

GlobalGiving.org is gathering funds to be given to a variety of relief organizations helping quake victims. It’s already raised over $100,000, most notably from concerned Twitter users around the world. Visit them at: The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

Please don’t forget about all the other people around the world who have been rebuilding and recovering from earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and other disasters (Haiti, Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Southern India, China, Peru and more).

Lend a hand, provide support and visit:

Mercy Corps.

Red Cross.

Green Crescent.

The Goods: Help Send Relief To Haiti.

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

Shelter Box.

CARE International.

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