The outer reaches of Typhoon Hagupit are already affecting the target region in the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the areas most under the gun, but the potential for serious problems covers a very large area. The storm has gone through quite a few changes over the last couple of days, but is probably strengthening somewhat right now. No matter what happens, it is going to hit the Philippines as a very serious storm.
Jeff Masters has an update here.
This is the same area that was hit with Typhoon Haiyan last year. Haiyan was a bigger storm. But, Haiyan was also one of the biggest typhoons ever observed (I think people are still arguing over whether it was the biggest, second biggest, etc.). There is potential for very high storm surges, serious winds, very heavy rains (over two feet in some places) which could cause devastating mudslides and flooding.
When this sort of storm hits people often want to know what they can do to help. I've learned about a recent project that you may be interested in. This is by Direct Relief. As background, let's look at a relatively objective source of information about Direct Relief, Wikipedia:
Direct Relief (formerly known as Direct Relief International) is a private humanitarian nonprofit organization based in Santa Barbara, California, with a mission to “improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations by mobilizing and providing essential medical resources needed for their care." Founded in 1948 by Estonian immigrant William D. Zimdin, the organization is headed by President and CEO Thomas Tighe and a 31-member Board of Directors. Direct Relief has received a 100% fundraising efficiency rating by Forbes, been ranked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as California's largest international relief organization, and topped Charity Navigator’s 2014 list of “10 of the Best Charities Everyone's Heard Of.” Direct Relief is the first nonprofit organization in the United States to be designated by The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) as a Verified-Accredited Wholesale Distributor licensed to distribute pharmaceutical medicines to all 50 U.S. States and Washington, D.C.
So it is an experienced organization, gets the money you give it out into the field efficiently, and is secular. All things I'm sure you want to see in an organization you make a donation to.
But the Hagupit situation offers an additional opportunity because Direct Relief has a new project in the field there, which looks promising. I was planning on talking to someone at Direct Relief about it, to find out more, but I think he got stuck in a meeting at the UN or something, so we'll probably talk later (and I'll report on that to you). Meanwhile, check this out:
Direct Relief’s Emergency Response Team is monitoring Typhoon Hagupit (locally known as Ruby), as it approaches the Philippines. On its current trajectory, the typhoon is expected to make landfall in the Eastern Visayas in the next 72 hours and could affect 4.5 million people.
Direct Relief already has staff on the ground ready to respond in the event of a disaster and has reached out to local partners and health officials located in high-risk regions 5, 6, 7 and 8.
There are also three strategically pre-positioned typhoon modules ready to be rapidly utilized in the event of an emergency. These modules contain enough medicines and supplies supplies to treat 5,000 people for a month following a disaster.
Philippine authorities are currently in the process of evacuating vulnerable communities. Vice Mayor of Tacloban city, Jerry Yaokasin, stated that “we will now strictly enforce forced evacuation.” Yaokasin said that “we have no more excuses, we have gone through Yolanda, and to lose that many lives, it’s beyond our conscience already.”
Direct Relief’s staff on the ground will be maintaining contact with partners and monitoring the situation as it develops in the next 72 hours.
There are three things you will find at Direct Relief's web site.
When donating, frankly, I'd suggest the "wherever it is needed most" or "disaster relief" options. They are already there, on the ground; they will be relieving people as it happens. I have a feeling they know best where to spend the money.
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