Tragedy strikes the nation and the world

This past week has been tragic to say the least, beginning Nov. 6 with Typhoon Haiyan making landfall in the Philippines and culminating Sunday with more than 80 reported tornadoes throughout the Midwest.

Since Typhoon Haiyan — nearly two weeks ago — authorities have confirmed at least 4,000 people died in the disaster and the Philippine energy secretary is trying to get power to the affected areas by Christmas Eve.

Think about that. Christmas Eve. That’s 48 days with no electricity. People have to carry on, hospitals have to operate in crisis mode and relief efforts must be organized, all without a functional electrical system beyond the generators that are being brought in by humanitarian aide groups.

While death toll estimates are already beyond 4,000, there are still thousands of people that are displaced and the damage estimate is currently around $1.08 billion.

On Thursday, four Marines died while clearing undetonated ordnance at Camp Pendleton located north of San Diego. The Marines were sweeping the range to make it safe for future training exercises. According a Chicago Tribune report, the Marines were all ordnance disposal technicians, while Fox News reported that one of the Marines did not follow proper procedure while handling a 60 mm mortar, which caused the detonation.

In Colorado two miners died and another 20 were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning. A representative for Star Mine Operations said that the gas was caused by a “powder-smoke incident.” Both miners that died were wearing respirators that did not seem to be malfunctioning. As of Monday, all but two of the hospitalized miners had been released.

Sunday, a Boeing 737-500 crashed at Kazan Airport in eastern Russia, specifically the Republic of Tatarstan. During landing, the plane’s nose hit the ground. All 50 people on the flight, including two children, a British education consultant, the head of Tatarstan’s Federal Security Service and the son of Tatarstan’s president, perished. A doctor on-scene said that nothing was left but ash and rubble. A loud bang and a trembling was reported by a man on the airfield before the crash. Authorities are still investigating the source of the tragedy.

Perhaps the most heard about event of the weekend was an outbreak of late-season tornadoes throughout the Midwest. There were four tornadoes confirmed, with an additional 81 reported in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. One tornado, that touched down in Washington, Ill., had winds between 166 and 200 miles per hour, ranking it as an EF4 tornado. In that town alone, 120 people were injured and between 250 and 500 homes were destroyed. In total, six people died as a result of the tornadoes.

It’s never easy to have this many tragedies this close together. In short, it was a bad weekend, obviously much more so for those personally affected by the events. But it makes us think. It makes us realize that a freak weather event or a mechanical malfunction or a slip up by someone else is all that is standing between us and what — if anything — is beyond this life. It can be a wakeup call, a moment of clarity or whatever you want it to be — if you want it to be anything at all. But at the very least, consider that you do not have as much as control as you may think over what happens to you.

The American Red Cross is taking up donations for victims of both Typhoon Haiyan and the Midwest tornadoes on their website, Redcross.org, and also through text message by texting “redcross” to 90999 for a $10 donation. Please also keep in mind that not all alleged charity organizations are sending donation money where they claim and to double and triple check where you donate.

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