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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.