Re­lief ef­forts mo­bi­lize in U.S. to as­sist ty­phoon vic­tims

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

A text mes­sage from across the globe as­sured Owings Mills, Md., res­i­dent Sonia Neumeier that her 89-year-old mother sur­vived Ty­phoon Haiyan, which flat­tened her home­town of Sara in the Philip­pines. Now her con­cerns turn to the liv­ing con­di­tions of the shel­ter where her mother will have to stay in the com­ing weeks, the lack of food and run­ning wa­ter and the pos­si­ble spread of dis­ease.

But Ms. Neumeier hopes to turn her anx­i­ety into some­thing pos­i­tive, as she pre­pares to travel to the Philip­pines in Jan­uary on a med­i­cal mis­sion with the Philip­pine Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion of Mary­land — one of dozens of or­ga­ni­za­tions in the D.C. re­gion ei­ther rais­ing funds or trav­el­ing to the dev­as­tated coun­try to pro­vide aid in the af­ter­math of one of the most pow­er­ful recorded ty­phoons.

“I don’t know her where­abouts, but I know she is alive, thank God,” said Ms. Neumeier, who em­i­grated from the Philip­pines 34 years ago. “You feel help­less, but some­times you just have to be strong. Right now we are tak­ing ac­tion and we are mo­bi­liz­ing the com­mu­nity to take ac­tion.”

Fri­day’s ty­phoon re­port­edly killed 10,000 or more peo­ple, but with the slow pace of re­cov­ery the of­fi­cial death toll re­mained well be­low that. The Philip­pine mil­i­tary con­firmed 942 dead, but shat­tered com­mu­ni­ca­tions and trans­porta­tion links have ham­pered ac­cess, and lo­cal gov­ern­ments sug­gest the fi­nal toll is days away.

Ms. Neumeier said the nurses as­so­ci­a­tion, as well as mem­bers from the Foun­da­tion for Aid to the Philip­pines and other com­mu­nity mem­bers, plan to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thurs­day at the Tow­son Branch of the Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Li­brary to dis­cuss ad­di­tional plans.

Across the re­gion, sev­eral lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions were plan­ning events in re­sponse to other re­cent tragedies in the coun­try and saw their fundrais­ing ef­forts gain ex­tra at­ten­tion as the dev­as­ta­tion wrought by the ty­phoon grew more ap­par­ent.

The Philip­pine Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion for Char­i­ties has al­ready do­nated $1,000 raised as re­lief for vic­tims of an earth­quake that struck the coun­try in Oc­to­ber. In part­ner­ship with the Philip­pine

Em­bassy, the Falls Church-based non­profit foun­da­tion will host a re­lief con­cert in Spring­field on Dec. 1. But with such wide­spread de­struc­tion, it’s tough to know where to fo­cus ef­forts, chair­man Ador Carreon said.

“Last week, we were called by the Philip­pine Em­bassy to help re­con­struct a church in Ba­hol which was dam­aged by the earth­quake, and now this ty­phoon hit al­most the same area. It’s kind of hard to de­cide what the pri­or­ity should be,” Mr. Carreon said.

The em­bassy has also tried to pro­vide guid­ance for peo­ple look­ing to give do­na­tions for dis­as­ter re­lief and has posted a list of aid groups on its web­site.

“We do have lots of peo­ple with good hearts send­ing do­na­tions and ask­ing what’s the pro­ce­dure,” said Joel Im­pat, of the Philip­pine Em­bassy.

The Amer­i­can Red Cross, which set up call cen­ters over the week­end to field in­quiries about miss­ing friends or rel­a­tives in the coun­try, rec­om­mends mon­e­tary con­tri­bu­tions as the best way for peo­ple to do­nate, un­less they al­ready have ties to a group on the ground.

“It is bet­ter that or­ga­nized groups go that they can sup­port their own mem­bers,” said Paul Car­den, a re­gional dis­as­ter pro­gram of­fi­cer with the Red Cross. “You’ve got to bring enough stuff for your­self. When our folks go, they go with an ini­tial sup­ply stock.”

Au­thor­i­ties said at least 2 mil­lion peo­ple in 41 prov­inces were af­fected by the ty­phoon, which is one of the most pow­er­ful recorded ty­phoons to ever hit land and likely the dead­li­est nat­u­ral dis­as­ter to be­set the poor South­east Asian na­tion.

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