From the Field

5 of the worst natural disasters in 2013

From quick-striking monster typhoons to slow-onset drought, natural disasters impacted the lives of millions of people around the world in 2013. Here are five of the worst.

Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines

Considered one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines Nov. 8, killing nearly 6,000 people and displacing more than 3.6 million people.

The 13-foot storm surge and up to 235-mph wind gusts largely wiped out coastal cities and destroyed much of the region’s infrastructure, such as roads, water and sanitation systems, and telecommunications lines.

“When you look at the mountains, they look bare and stripped of all vegetation,” Aaron Aspi, a World Vision communications officer, told ABC Radio on November 11 from northern Cebu.

Within one month of the storm, World Vision had reached almost 150,000 people with emergency food, shelter, medical attention, and other assistance. It is preparing long-term efforts to help people in as many as 80,000 households in the disaster-prone country get back on their feet.

Amamae and Jecel, whose homes were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, display the Christmas decorations they made at a World Vision’s Child Friendly Space, which has helped over 1,400 children affected by the typhoon. “I wish my home gets fixed,” says Jecel. (©2013 World Vision/photo by Annila Harris)

Typhoon Phailin: India

The strongest cyclone to hit India in 14 years, Typhoon Phailin affected the livelihoods of more than 13 million people in the country’s northeast.

Heavy rains and more than 150-mph winds brought widespread devastation. But fewer than 50 people died in the mid-October storm. Governments and aid organizations credited improved disaster preparedness and the early evacuation of about 1 million of the most vulnerable residents along the coast.

As Phailin approached, World Vision staff had provided megaphones, life jackets, flashlights, and ropes to community leaders, enabling them to warn residents and organize quickly. In the aftermath, the organization distributed emergency food and other supplies to families in Brahmapur, in Odisha state.

Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid: Mexico

Two separate storms overwhelmed western Mexico with rain in September, triggering widespread flooding and landslides. More than 200,000 people were affected in Guerrero state alone. In Acapulco, five feet of mud overtook vehicles and destroyed homes.

World Vision staff provided families in the Xochistlahuaca and Santa Catarina River communities in Guerrero with food, blankets, and tarps. In the long term, we will provide clean water, sanitation kits, and construction materials to help families rebuild their homes.

We will also operate Child-Friendly Spaces, where children have a safe place to learn, play, and receive counseling.

Earthquake: Central Visayas, Philippines

Just three weeks before Typhoon Haiyan hit Central Visayas, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake rocked the same region, killing 222 people, displacing 350,000, and damaging or destroying about 73,000 buildings. Thousands of displaced or homeless quake survivors still had not found adequate shelter before Haiyan blew through.

World Vision provided affected families with food and basic household supplies in the days after the quake.

Tornadoes: United States

A massive tornado, packing 200-mph winds, raked a 12-mile path through the Oklahoma City area May 20, destroying homes and severely damaging two elementary schools. The twister killed 24 people, ABC News reported.

The week before, as many as 10 tornadoes touched down in North Texas, killing six.

In response to the dual disasters, World Vision provided more than 15,000 affected people with emergency food kits, hygiene kits, cleanup kits, and blankets. Its mobile Teacher Resource Center supplied 156 teachers to serve 2,300 students at four schools in devastated Oklahoma neighborhoods.

As part of a long-term recovery commitment, World Vision is partnering with local churches and organizations to help families rebuild their homes.

Other disasters

Other large-scale natural disasters World Vision responded to in 2013 include:

  • Solomon Islands earthquake and tsunami (February)
  • Sichuan, China, earthquake (April)
  • Southern Africa drought (May-present)
  • Uttarakhand, India, floods (June)
  • Colorado, U.S., floods (September)
  • Southern Asia floods (October)
  • West Africa drought (ongoing)

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