Josephine Desmond had been up all night pleading with her family members to leave their village of Maslog in the eastern Philippines. The reason: a monster storm was barreling straight at them. By the morning of Nov. 8 last year, no one was answering the phone. From her home in Subic Bay, a town in the northern part of the archipelago nation, Josephine saw images of death and devastation on television. “I felt like I had lost everyone,” she says.
Josephine was lucky—nearly all her kin were evacuated. But, for many, Supertyphoon Haiyan was a killer. Haiyan was the fiercest storm on record ever to make landfall anywhere, with wind speeds exceeding 300 km/h and a 7-m-high storm surge that flattened entire communities. More than 6,300 people died. A once tranquil region resembled a war zone.
With most infrastructure destroyed and local officials shell-shocked, international aid was blocked. Hours turned…
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