Thursday August 28, 2014

EDITORIAL - Typhoon is also a local issue


In a community newspaper the editorial space should be devoted to issues of a local interest.

Our view should be focused here, as there are numerous other forums out there better positioned to comment on events in Washington, Ottawa, and places well beyond our local base.

Yet this week the topic is the disaster which befell the Philippines when hit by Typhoon Haiyan recently.

Local readers might wonder why a disaster half-a-world-away is of local importance here in Yorkton?

The reason is actually twofold.

There are some 600 people of Philippine descent now living in Yorkton, and certainly more in the immediate area. Some quick math suggests that is close to four per cent of our city’s population, and right now those residents have to be living in a time of uncertainty.

We had, what is by comparison, a small taste of what flooding can do to a community when the rains came July 1, 2010.

The storm, a one-in-100-year occurrence they say, left several families displaced, many battling flooding in their homes and businesses, and the entire community dealing with the aftermath for months and, for some, years.

Now imagine a storm a thousand times worse ripping through not just a single city, but almost the entire country.

Typhoon Haiyan is reported to be the worst storm of its kind ever recorded, and it hit a country susceptible to such storms based on it being an archipelago of many islands, most with limited storm defences.

The death toll is in the thousands, and is likely to increase as deaths occur as a result of the storm.

The impact of the storm was massive.

As an example food is in short supply, causing looting. Mobs overran a rice warehouse last week setting off a wall collapse that killed eight people.

With some 4 million displaced, homes not just flooded, but completely destroyed, the infrastructure of the country severely damaged, the threat of starvation, disease, and riots of discourse are all too real.

That means the fate of family and friends of 600 people in our city are in question.

The uncertainty of the situation in the country of their birth has to be devastating.

But that is also where we as a community can again come together.

Canada as a whole has a well-earned reputation for humanitarian aid when it is needed, and clearly much help is needed in the Philippines. The immediate needs are the basics of food, water, shelter and security.

The future need will be in helping the country rebuild from the devastation.

The Canadian government has already stepped forward with a significant pledge of support, and a promise to match public donations. That means a dollar pledged here in Yorkton in support of the families of our local residents will be doubled.

The Canadian Armed Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team is also on the ground in the Philippines. Days after Nov. 11, we again see the men and women of our Armed Forces playing an important role for our country.

And so our history of helping those in need is proudly continuing, and we in Yorkton can be helping some of our newest residents deal with the impact of the disaster thousands of miles from here.

Thus we will also show just what it means to be Canadian.



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