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SHOREline Project Press

Letter to SHOREliners re: Typhoon Haiyan Response

November 19, 2013

Dear SHOREliners,

Philippines TyphoonBy now many of you have probably seen the news coverage of Typhoon Haiyan. It devastated the Philippines as it made its way through the region on November 8, 2013. It was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. Some scientists even designated the typhoon the equivalent of the “highest” Category 5 hurricane, or even argue it could have been a Category 6 if such a measure existed. Current United Nations and Philippine government estimates indicate more than 11 million people have been affected and some 673,000 people have been displaced from their homes and communities.

Many in our larger SHOREline community have experienced disasters as well, or are only one degree of separation from those who have. We want to acknowledge, as a network, the enormity of this typhoon and the incredible devastation it has wrought. We especially want to extend our caring and support to those who have family and friends in the area who are directly affected by these events.

For the moment, the world’s attention is focused on the Philippines. But inevitably that attention will shift elsewhere. This is a lesson for all of us in the SHOREline network—to observe how a catastrophe occurs, and then to understand how the long recovery occurs beyond the sight of most print and television media. Our collective or individual response to Typhoon Haiyan can take many forms, but at a minimum it begins with an understanding of what the people of Philippines are facing and the likelihood of a long and difficult road of recovery ahead.

Soldiers prepare to load food supplies to a Philippine Air Force helicopter at Tacloban airport Monday Nov. 11, 2013, following Friday's typhoon Haiyan that lashed this city and several provinces in central Philippines.  Authorities said at least 2 million people in 41 provinces had been affected by Friday's disaster and at least 23,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)Doing something, whether it’s collective action or a thought or a prayer, begins with understanding and compassion. It may be too soon for us to deploy our SHOREline projects across the globe to the Philippines, but it’s not too soon for us to pay attention to what is happening there. As such, we would like to encourage the SHOREline chapters to follow the story, to think critically about the response and recovery needs of the survivors, and to observe the ways that disaster recovery is similar across the globe and how it varies from country to country or culture to culture. There are many possibilities for sharing and taking action in the aftermath of disaster, as you all already know. Think of the stories Milan Taylor shared with you and their Messages of Hope video. Think of how Tina Tran and her classmates developed the LandRafts project. After the March 2011 Japanese tsunami, a New Orleans youth group, the NFL Yet Boys and Girls Club, responded in an innovative way. After members saw pictures of the tsunami’s destruction, the group decided to write a song for the survivors to spearhead their fund-raising campaign. They recorded their song, uploaded it to YouTube, and began sharing it with anyone who would listen. Together, they asked their schools, communities, and local news agencies to help spread the word and to consider making a donation whenever possible. Funds were ultimately sent to their youth group and members were able to raise and donate more than $2,000. Their video can be found here

As demonstrated with the above examples and so many others, there are many unique ways to take action. If the chapters decide to collect donations, you could consider donating In Honor of SHOREline. There are certainly many worthy charitable organizations engaged in the humanitarian response to this Pacific typhoon. To identify appropriate organizations, chapters can access the Disaster Accountability Project or Charity Navigator. The chapters might also consider selecting a single organization, such as Save the Children, as the designated SHOREline charity. Whatever you decide to do, if anything, we are here to support you in any way that we can.

The SHOREline National Team

David Abramson, Lori Peek, Jaishree Beedasy, Tom Aguilar, Kallin Brooks, Amber Goff, Becky May, Jyaphia Rodgers, Jonathan Sury, Frank Wesley