Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 24, 2013

Update on Visayas Event

Filed under: Catastrophes — by Philip J. Palin on November 24, 2013

PHL_snapshot_OCHA

Click on the map to open a larger version

As of Saturday evening Philippine time:

Confirmed fatalities: Over 5000

Displaced persons: 4.29 million

Needing emergency food: 2.5 million

A combination of extraordinary international relief and restored domestic supply chains are delivering basic needs — water, food, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and such — to a wide area of the Central Philippines impacted by the November 8 typhoon.  It seems to me that it took roughly eight or nine days to establish sufficient capacity and capability across an area roughly the size of Louisiana.

These crucial elements of near-term recovery have been accomplished while most of the area still does not have electricity.  This is, I suggest, another in those important distinctions between a disaster and a catastrophe.  In a disaster the priority is usually restoration of power after which most other problems can be solved.  In a catastrophe or near-catastrophe the priority is often to deliver basic needs without the grid being operational… with all the complications that involves.

The Visayas are shifting to longer-term issues of recovery.  For example, fishermen who lost their boats to the typhoon are improvising as they can, but at least 1300 fishing craft were destroyed.  Mid-December is the season for rice-planting.  Seed-stocks were lost and need to be replenished and distributed quickly.  A geo-thermal plant — Asia’s largest — in western Leyte was thrown offline by the typhoon.  Cooling towers and controls will require repairs before it can restart.  The plant supplies roughly one-third of the electricity consumed in the Vasayas region.

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4 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 25, 2013 @ 2:25 am

Sympathy to all involved in this catastrophic event.

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

November 25, 2013 @ 5:47 am

Interesting distinction between a disaster and catastrophe.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 25, 2013 @ 8:41 am

As always my definition of “catastrophic” rests on destruction of government capability to respond and recover at any level of government!

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 25, 2013 @ 8:56 am

The rise of the standby and emergency generator production, supply,and installation is starting to bite into the short term destruction of the grid for the first two weeks after the event depending on supplies of propane and diesel since 1980 is amazing in some areas.

In the USA generator suppliers are running production lines 24/7/365. An investment opportunity?

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