How do you rebuild after “absolute bedlam”

bigstock-Typhoon-Damage-49529420Two weeks ago we were sobered up to the devastating reality of what nature is capable of destroying when Typhoon Haiyan (“Yolanda”) hit the Philippines.

Firstly, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the pain and sufferings of those effected by Haiyan and wish our heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

The head of the Red Cross in the Philippines has described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan as “absolute bedlam” and it is said that Haiyan has left the Philippines with years’ worth of repairs and recovery. From watching one too many hurricanes, tsunamis and typhoons throughout the world we know that estimation to be true. We are painfully aware of the millions of people affected by this tragedy as well as the amazing efforts that numerous organizations are doing to help with its relief.

We wonder though, once the rains have stopped, the survivors provided with medical care, food and water, what next? Where do you go when there is nothing left to return to? Is there a better way to rebuild? To prepare a country for potential disaster?

There is an approach to building/rebuilding called Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which the UN agencies define as “The conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development.” This approach is something we should all consider when building a home.

Banda Aceh in Indonesia had another approach. In December of 2004 Banda Aceh was hit by a tidal wave tsunami claiming numerous lives and destroying more than half of the city’s buildings. When the time came to rebuild, they had a thought: “in the case of disaster a city may not be able to be saved, but its residents can be” With that in mind they created an orderly evacuation system and a “safe way out” was built into each home.

We hope that the residents, government and relief funds will keep both these approaches in mind when the time comes to rebuild in the Philippines.

In the meantime there is still need for immediate relief. Please take a moment and read about what organizations like: Shelter Box, The Honest Company  and Americares are doing to help the victims of Haiyan and donate if you can.