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This Happened

This Happened—November 8: A Deadly Storm Makes Landfall

One of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, Typhoon Haiyan devastated parts of southeast Asia in 2013 and mainly landed in the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people.

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Why was Haiyan so devastating?

It is the second deadliest typhoon-- after 1881’s Haiphong claimed around 20,000 lives - ever reported in the Philippines. Described as a “Super Typhoon” and sometimes referred to as Super Typhoon Yolanda, it took 6,300 lives and caused just shy of $3 billion in damage.

It had a maximum 10-minute sustained wind speed of 145 miles per hour and reached wind speeds of 195 miles per hour.

What happened after Typhoon Haiyan hit?

In is aftermath, reporters described the affected Tacloban city as a “war zone”, where only 100 of the city’s 1,300 police reported for duty. People began looting grocery stores and malls, and then other peoples’ homes. The ensuing humanitarian crisis saw 1.8 million people become homeless, and an additional 6 million people displaced from their homes.

Did the Philippines ever recover from Haiyan?

Recovery efforts began as the government and other donors constructed resettlement sites to help those who had lost everything in the storm. Resettlement sites helped the Philippines’ recovery, but displaced farmers that had been working on the lands for generations.

Many farmers did not qualify for the resettlement sites, forcing them to live in makeshift houses constructed of corrugated sheet metal and wood, often on lands prone to flooding.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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