The Philippines Exhausts Its Alphabet of Natural Disasters

November 18, 2013

Perhaps it is only this running out of letters -- these A to Z typhoons -- that, to some extent, accounts for the attitude of Tacloban's citizens: always self-controlled, smiling, friendly, and polite, they keep on doing whatever they can to improve their situation. Many have lost every last thing they had, and many still have no idea what happened to their families. Numerous children are on their own, with no living relatives.

Action Against Hunger, which has had a long presence in the Philippines, has mobilized hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid that, along with other teams of aid workers, will make this situation more tolerable. But so much more is needed. In the entire course of history, no one has ever seen anything comparable to this. But the problem with letters, words, and images is that they get used up fast. They're good for a little while, but soon new ones are needed. And in January, the alphabet roulette will start all over.