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US Groups Launch Relief Efforts to Help Philippine Storm Victims

November 9th 2013

Hurricane Irene 28 Aug 0900

Relief efforts are being mobilized in the United States to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms to ever batter the Philippines. The storm slammed into the central Philippines on Friday, perhaps causing scores of deaths [according to preliminary estimations] and widespread damage. Government and non-government organizations in the U.S. are reaching out to help those affected.

Rain battered Cebu Island as Typhoon Haiyan roared ashore. As it moved inland, it left behind shattered homes and washed-out roads. The storm is known in the Philippines as Yolanda. It left many communities with no power and no communications. As a result, Jose Cuisia, Jr., the Philippines ambassador to the United States, said the full extent of damage is not yet known.

"It is too early to tell what exactly we will need, but definitely after the relief operations there is going to be a lot of work in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitation, particularly for people who have lost their homes," he said.

Cuisia said he is appealing to Philippine-American community to help those affected. He also said the U.S.State Department has offered to provide assistance, and the U.S. military has offered to provide aircraft and experienced personnel.

The ambassador said in previous storms, diseases spread by standing water have been a big problem. He said private organizations have donated medicine to help with these ailments.

"We have to make sure that particularly in places where there are floods the people avoid being contaminated by these contaminated waters, and making sure that we have all of the proper medications for these people should they be exposed to these contaminated waters," he said.

The National Federation of Filipino American Associations is holding a series of community events to raise money for victims, including a concert in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington.

Communications Director Jon Melegrito said many of the group's members have been trying to reach relatives in the affected regions. “There is a tremendous amount of concern about the damage and the dislocation and the broken lives and the deaths. So, we are constantly in a state of vigil, just monitoring what is happening.”

Melegrito said the Philippines is facing a long-term recovery effort but hopes his group's donations will provide some immediate relief. “We hope that we can rise to the level where our generosity will at least come close to alleviating some of the suffering that they are going through right now.”

Meanwhile, storm preparations are underway in Vietnam, which soon could feel Typhoon Haiyan wrath [expected landfall around 1800 UTC on Saturday]. The Vietnamese Embassy in Washington says the government has begun storm preparations, which include evacuation plans and fortifying dikes and dams.

Pamela Dockins writes for VOA, from where this article is adapted.


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