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Typhoon Mangkhut Hits International Students' Homes

As Typhoon Mangkhut — so far labeled the most powerful storm of the year — struck the Philippines, Hong Kong, and southern China, Harvard students from the affected regions checked in with their loved ones more than 7,000 miles away and kept an eye on the reports of widespread destruction.

The typhoon hit the Luzon region of the northern Philippines as a category five hurricane and reached Hong Kong last Sunday as a rare Signal 10 on a 1-10 scale.  The typhoon also hit China’s southern Guangdong Province before it was downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday afternoon once it moved into the neighboring Guangxi Province.

Romnick L. Blanco ’22  is from a province three hours away from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Upon learning about the typhoon, he said he read news reports of the damage to his home country. According to the Filipino police, an estimated 66 people have died as of last Monday.

“I saw a picture of a sick child being transferred from an ambulance which was stopped behind a boat that fell,” Blanco said. “It made me really sad that it could be in the condition of this, that the Philippines are going through right now.”

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Blanco said he was used to typhoons after having lived his entire life in the Philippines, but was surprised when he read reports of its intensity. A category four super typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013, is the deadliest storm on record in the Philippines, killing 7,000 people.

"What surprised me was the fact that the news articles described it as something that was like Hurricane Florence which happened in the Mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S.,” Blanco said. “If it's that strong, then that's terrifying, because that's really terrifying in the sense that there will be a lot of damages, and a lot of people will die.”

Noah B. Ramos ’21, who has family in Manila, said that most College students with family in the Philippines are from the Manila area, where he said the typhoon “only hit the edge.”

Ramos and Blanco said they were not aware of any Philippines relief efforts from on-campus organizations.

Hong Kong student Cedric H. T. Li ’21 said the storm was “the strongest typhoon [to hit Hong Kong] in recorded history” and that many of his friends back in Hong Kong are still struggling to get to school or work.

Li said the Harvard community has been “loving and caring” in the wake of the storm.

“My resident dean Amanda reached out this morning,” Li said. “I felt like the staff and the administration really looked out for me and I felt closer to Currier House as a whole.”

Li also said the Hong Kong Society and Asian American Association plan to hold a fundraiser to support rebuilding efforts in Hong Kong.

“This shows a lot of attention and a lot of love here from Harvard in terms of international issues and how they are affecting the students,” Li said. “It’s very nice to know that we are all looking out for each other and we are all caring for our city. That spirit of Hong Kong is still there.”

—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at alexandra.chaidez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez.

—Staff writer Cecilia R. D'Arms can be reached at cecilia.d'arms@thecrimson.com

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