Hardly had the ink dried on last week’s blog about the Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in the US than Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. As of Thursday, November 14, the official number who died stood at 2275, a number expected to rise. Yolanda (as the Philippine islanders call it) affected 11 million people.
At times, chaos reigned. When people stormed a rice warehouse near Tacloban, one of the worst hit areas, eight died in the crush. They took 100,000 bags of rice. Groups of looters stripped shops of goods there, then broke into homes of those who had died or had abandoned their city. Armed assailants held up aid convoys headed to Tacloban. Communist revolutionaries also tried to take advantage of the chaos for their own ends. Troops restored order. There, where most of the help had been provided, bodies remained on the streets: not enough hands to remove them.
Relief poured in from around the world to the airport at Cebu, 100 miles from Tacloban. Belgium sent in a field hospital; Germany a portable purification plant. By the end of Wednesday, the United States had delivered nearly 274,000 pounds of supplies to Tacloban: plastic tarps, hygiene kits, blankets and medical supplies. Philippine welfare personnel loaded packages of rice and canned food provided by the World Food Program to distribute to nearly 50,000 Tacloban residents.
Daryl Dano flew to Tacloban from Manila to search for her family. In the morning, she found residents sifting through the vast fields of debris to salvage what they could. At night, however, people lit a bonfire and gathered in a circle to sing.
“They were sitting like Boy Scouts, sharing survival stories and what they did,” she said. “They were sometimes even making jokes about the destruction around them.
“I asked them why or how they could laugh?” she said. A person replied, “I just have to think happy thoughts. This is my second life. I just have to move on from this point to the next.”
When people survive disaster (and some don’t) such as Hainan, many experience chaos. Desperation for food and water break down normal limits on people’s actions. As in many other national crises, people also feel for others who have lost so much. Compassion stirs their hearts to reach out sacrificially to provide for others’ basic needs. But people themselves also have the capacity to bounce back, to put their misfortune into perspective, and to rebuild their lives.
When you look at Job’s response to his disasters, what actions could you point to that illustrates his resilience? After a particularly disastrous event for you, how have you shown resilience ?