HOLMBERG: Imagine if that typhoon had hit here

Posted at 12:36 AM, Nov 13, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-13 08:14:56-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Doesn’t it seem like every time you turn around, some big disaster is striking somewhere in the world? Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, droughts.

You get kind of numb to it, particularly when almost every storm that hits the U.S. is hyped as a monster, even if it just blew over a few cars and trees.

But this Typhoon Haiyan shows what a monster storm can be.

While the Atlantic has slept through this hurricane season, the Pacific has been making up for it.

Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines as the strongest typhoon/hurricane EVER, according to records.

This island nation saw some of the highest wind speeds in history – 195 miles per hour, with gusts of 235 and more.

Consider, the hardest-blowing  Atlantic hurricane on record was Camille in 1969, with 190 mph winds. Hurricane Sandy’s biggest blow: 115.

Haiyan is more than 300 miles wide. That would be like driving from Richmond to Philadelphia, and then driving 50 more miles. It would’ve wiped the Outer Banks slick, and likely Virginia Beach as well.

It has left about ten percent of this island nation (population 98 million) homeless.  Hundreds and likely thousands - if not tens of thousands -  died on impact. And many more are at risk.

“People wandering aimlessly, trying to figure out how to feed their families,” said Francis Stevens with the Filipino American Association of Central Virginia. There is a crushing need for food, water, medicine, housing materials and other basics.

Stevens said most of the many Filipinos living in Central Virginia have no idea what has become of their friends and family over there.

“Communications lines have been devastated by this typhoon, so they’re waiting to see what to do,” he said.

Initially, the Filipino American Association of Central Virginia was working to gather supplies for relief, but they realized the logistics are just too problematic in this western Pacific republic supplied by air and sea.

He recommends anyone who wants to help should contribute to established charities that are already operating there, like the Philippine Red Cross.

The Philippines often gets hammered by storms, typically about a half-dozen times a year. Meteorologists say it is directly in the path of the world’s #1 typhoon generator.

“This past year alone they’ve had 20 calamities,” Stevens said. “The last one they had, they had to suffer through an earthquake.”

“It’s a country that has suffered greatly,” he added. “But the Filipinos are very resilient, they’re very resourceful and they’re hard-working. Their faith in God is so strong, that they know they’re going to get though today.”

How would we have fared if this monster had hit here?

Those who are interested in helping can contact the Philippine Red Cross here :

Find out more about the Filipino American Association of Central Virginia here, with links to aid groups: