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Typhoon Haiyan: How you can help

(Rebecca Lawson contributed significantly to this report)

Far away disasters are a challenge to the imagination. Cities we've never seen, people we've never lived among, gather to themselves an air of unreality and it doesn't help that the stories themselves are often outlandish. We are far from safe, here in America, and it seems that the rate at which we experience the wrath of nature increases yearly, but we are protected in a way many places are not. The aspects in which our government does not function are important, but ultimately political. A sturdy apparatus of widespread relative wealth, regulation, and insurance infrastructure form some protection, however slight, against devastation.

As of November 22nd, the death toll of Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines with such force, has risen to 5,209 and will almost certainly rise higher. You have to go back to 1900 to find a comparable human disaster in American history, the 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas and cost anywhere between 6,000-12,000 lives. Hurricane Katrina, the only recent environmental disaster of comparable force in our nation cost 1,836 lives, according to Wikipedia. None of this is meant to minimize any tragedy anywhere, all of these were national tragedies, and tragedy itself is deeply personal. It is felt in homes and families, whether it is one or one million.

But 1,582 people are still missing. Our own Rebecca Lawson works for the Red Cross, and according to their experts, over 4.4 million people have been displaced from their homes and infrastructure damage is still severe enough that relief of many kinds is extremely difficult to deliver. 1.1 million homes have been destroyed and 2.5 million people need food assistance. Many of the affected areas rely on agriculture for their subsistence, and the wholesale destruction of fields and farms has created an urgent need for action to safeguard the harvest. The numbers are staggering and help is still desperately needed.

Some of you may not know this, but here at Mavs Moneyball, we have a large number of Filipinos in our community. I'm assured by Jonathan Tjarks that there's nothing all that unusual about this, that the NBA is very popular in the Philippines. I haven't heard anything to this effect yet, but it's pretty likely that someone we know from the message boards was personally affected by this tragedy. And, as a community, we can help.

I've been told that the best way to help is to give money. While food and clothes items are very thoughtful, the bureaucracy needed to process these and the infrastructure to deliver them appropriately halfway across the world is a difficult proposition. On the other hand, organizations like the Red Cross are on the ground, already working, already involved, and more aware at that distance of what the needs are than we can be. They also allow the Red Cross to purchase materials in bulk in the area affected, which can significantly impact the local economy. With our help, they can do more.

As you know, we don't do things like this often here at MMB, but please consider giving to those in need. The Red Cross is still responding to Superstorm Sandy, which tells you how long these relief efforts can take. Every little bit helps. Rebecca tells me that $10 can buy "quite a bit more than you think".

The Red Cross's donation page is here. As you'll see, there's a couple options as they're involved in a great many ongoing projects. Click on "Typhoon Appeal" to make a specific donation, or donate generally to the Red Cross. Thanks for all you do.