Typhoon Haiyan swept across the central Philippines on Friday leaving a trail of massive destruction in its wake. With sustained winds reported at over 145 miles per hour, and significantly stronger gusts, Haiyan was the second category 5 typhoon to strike the Philippines this year. The typhoon affected 4.3 million people across 36 provinces. Philippine Red Cross volunteers throughout the region are reporting significant damage and a growing death toll, while the full extent of the devastation continues to unfold. Currently, 1,200 evacuation centers are housing more than 330,000 people left homeless by the storm.
The American Red Cross deployed two disaster relief specialists on Saturday to assist in the assessment and relief efforts. Since communication is still very limited in the hardest hit communities, the American Red Cross will also send two telecommunication specialists and a satellite system in the coming days. One of the two specialists is from Greenville, OH, J.W., Darke County Chapter disaster volunteer, who also specializes in International Disaster services as well. J.W. flew out of Dayton airport early Sunday, making a stop in Washington, D.C to pick up additional communications gear, before boarding an international flight early Monday morning. He will then meet up with another specialist, who happened to be traveling abroad. These two volunteers are part of a select team who train, drill, maintain equipment and work with volunteers across the world, ready to deploy, during just this kind of situation. Volunteers, including JW, met in Austria this past summer, tra ining to set satellites in mountainous terrain, spending five days in the Alps¸ working together to respond. J.W. will be setting up communications when he arrives in the Philippines.
The Red Cross has activated its family tracing services. If you are looking for a missing family member in the Philippines, please remember that many phones lines are down. Please continue trying. If you are still unable to reach them, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a tracing case. Philippine Red Cross volunteer rescue and relief teams are providing assistance in the hardest hit communities, including assisting in search and rescue efforts and distributing food and relief supplies to survivors.
Help people affected by the Pacific Typhoon by going to redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or mail in your donation to your local Red Cross chapter. For corporate or larger community fundraising events, please contact your local Red Cross chapter.