Just a few miles outside Tacloban, Philippines, 2012 Wartburg alumna Shubira Bocko has been serving and working for the Peace Corps. Little did she know that one of the biggest storms on record would pass through that area.
But this wasn’t just any storm; this storm was a typhoon.
Rev. Ramona Bouzard has been receiving updates from Bocko through Facebook, but she said communication has been difficult during this time.
“She’s doing fine, it’s so hard though, and she’s expressed it in her Facebook posts,” Bouzard said. “What she saw in Tacloban was just so horrific.”
Bouzard said that Bocko posted on Facebook that she was inside a concrete building during the typhoon, but if she had been outside, she wouldn’t have survived.
KWWL Meteorologist Jeff Kennedy said a typhoon is the same thing as a hurricane.
“We call them ‘hurricanes’ on our side of the globe, but as soon as the storm crosses the international dateline, it becomes a ‘typhoon.’ It gets a different name, but it’s the same storm,” Kennedy said.
According to a recent CNN report, the total death toll from Typhoon Haiyan has reached 3,633 people, with 12,487 people injured and 1,179 people still missing.
Kennedy said there were adequate warnings for this storm issued and meteorologists knew this weather system was going to be a major storm before it hit.
“I’m not sure if the people in the Philippines just were not prepared or they didn’t pay attention to the warnings,” Kennedy said. “A major typhoon shouldn’t really catch people off guard.”
This “Super Typhoon” has affected the lives of people all over the globe.
Wartburg student Karina Devine said she has also faced the challenges of getting in contact with those affected by this natural disaster.
Devine said her great-uncle is retired and lives in the Philippines over extended periods of time, and he just so happened to be there at the time when the typhoon hit.
She said she hasn’t heard much from him directly yet about what is going on or how he is doing but she knows that he is all right.
“None of us have heard directly from him, except for his daughter,” Devine said. “It’s hard because you want to find out everything, but then again, you know it’s hard for them to communicate.”
Devine said the best thing to do right now is pray and hope for the best.
A prayer vigil was held in the Wartburg Chapel on Wednesday, Nov. 13 to honor and pray for those affected in Typhoon Haiyan.
“One of the cool things is that a vigil, waiting and praying and watching over those who are in need, expands religious traditions so its such a great place for us to come together,” Bouzard said.
Bouzard also said the Wartburg Asian Association has set up donation boxes around campus for donations to send to people in the Philippines affected by the typhoon.
“I think that our Wartburg Community is such a strong place for thinking about helping others,” Bouzard said.
“I hope as students progress through the year we will find some good ways to raise money to be able to share with the people in the Philippines, and also continue to also look around us and see the fact that it’s not just the big disasters but there’s daily stuff that we can help with as we look at helping our neighbors.”