In 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated Leyte province in the Philippines. The deadliest Philippine typhoon on record killed at least 6,300 people, displaced tens of thousands, and destroyed cities and towns. The Philippine Red Cross estimates that 22,000 are still missing.
Within the last few weeks, two major hurricanes – Harvey and Irma – hit the United States. Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in eastern Texas, inundating hundreds of thousands of homes, displacing more than 30,000 people. Harvey caused at least 71 confirmed deaths. Irma, dubbed a “nuclear hurricane,” has already ravaged parts of the Caribbean, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the coastal cities of Florida.
We are aware that people in our community have friends and relatives in these affected areas. We are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.
Now is a time for unity and compassion and for pledges of assistance so we can help rebuild the lives of those who are suffering from these disasters.
There’s more that we can do, of course. We need to take seriously what two-thirds of Americans now believe: that our climate is changing and human activity is a major factor. The Philippines has borne the brunt of 22 storms and typhoons each year. Heavily exposed to increasing incidence of extreme weather events, the Philippines is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the world.
To address this humanitarian crisis, we need to make changes in the way we live, where we live and how we live. We can no longer ignore the threat posed by our warming planet.