LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Salvation Army teams in the Philippines are preparing to provide assistance to the thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Typhoon Yolanda). More than 10,000 people are thought to have lost their lives in the disaster, with hundreds of thousands left without homes, power or clean water. The worst-hit areas are impossible to reach by road, and many communities have no means of making contact with the rest of the country.
“Salvation Army teams are currently preparing to support the relief effort in the worst-hit areas and are addressing the logistics challenges of their travel and of the transportation of supplies,” states Colonel Wayne Maxwell, Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army in the Philippines.
Seven tons of food, rice and canned goods, have already been prepared for distribution in 18-kilogram packages. Transportation is a huge challenge but The Salvation Army is in a priority queue for government approval for its goods to be transported to the region in and around the city of Tacloban. Salvation Army staff are already on their way to take part in the relief effort. The region's geography is complicating any response, with the worst-hit area being made up of several islands.
On Leyte, the island that bore the brunt of the typhoon, there is no power and only very poor, intermittent cell phone capability, meaning that it is very difficult to get a clear picture of what is happening on the ground. The worst-affected area seems to be around Tacloban, the capital of the island province of Leyte, which is approximately 360 miles south-east of the Philippines’ capital, Manila. The islands of Iloilo, Palawan and Mindoro were also affected. A team from territorial headquarters is making arrangements with the Philippine Airforce to transport food parcels, water and medical supplies to Tacloban, and a Salvation Army doctor will be part of the initial response team.
“We have placed an order for $100,000 US of food supplies to assist the people of Tacloban,” states Colonel Maxwell. “The reality for us here is that the need is great and we want to provide a significant response. The Island of Leyte has four corps (Salvation Army worship and community centers) and there are other islands that have experienced major levels of devastation. The task for us is immense and our cash extremely limited!” he adds.
Donations to support The Salvation Army's response in The Philippines can be made through local Salvation Army offices of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties or online at secure.salvationarmy.org.