• Local organizations helping with relief efforts in Philippines

    By: Chris Legeros


    Ten thousand people are now feared dead in one city alone three days after Super Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines.

    Gruesome reports indicate bodies are hanging from tree branches, scattered along sidewalks and buried in flattened buildings.

    "I could not even bear looking at it," Alan Garcia said. Garcia, a Filipino, is worried about his brother and sisters in Bohol, which was already damaged by an earthquake in October and is now hit again by the storm.

    He can't reach them.

    "Are they OK?" he said. "Are they hungry? What do they need?"

    He also can't reach friends who now live in the U.S. but were scheduled for a visit back to the Philippines.

    "I am really, really worried," he said. "I just don't what to think about it."

    At the Filipino Community Center in South Seattle, the Filipino channel runs a news crawl with updates.

    "All we can do is be here, be present, and see what we can do as a community," Executive Director Sheila Burrus said.

    A massive international relief operation is underway right now -- with hundreds of U.S. Marines already on the ground with humanitarian aid -- doing what they can to help the 4 million people impacted.

    It's the deadliest natural disaster in that nation's history.

    Six members of an Empact Northwest Disaster Team flew to the Philippines early Monday morning. They are medics, nurses, and rescue technicians headed for Tacloban, the city hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. The storm surge created a 20 foot wall of water that killed as many as 10,000 people. Jake Gillanders is the team leader.

    He said, "Our primary mission is we're rescue providers. So we go in, we provide that light rescue, pulling people out of buildings, removing people from traps."

    The group has a secondary mission as an assessment team.

    Gillanders said, "We go in and we help coordinate the incoming larger resources to help them bring in additional resources."

    For example, this time the Empact team is working with a fuel provider to bring fuel to an area where supplies have been cut off. Every member of the team is a volunteer. Each one will pay his or her own way to get to the Philippines. This deployment is expected to last seven to ten days.

    >>> How to help with relief efforts in the Philippines

    Federal Way-based relief organization World Vision loaded up a plane in Frankhurt with 5,000 blankets and 3,000 plastic sheets to make temporary shelters.

    They're deploying teams to assess the damage, but workers say it is difficult to access certain areas because roads and even the airport in Tacloban City are heavily damaged or destroyed.

    "Only the runway was left," World Vision worker Aaron Aspi told KIRO 7 about the airport. "Everything was totally wrecked."

    Aspi said he's been lifted up, though, by seeing survivors helping each other.

    "People are organizing to share everything among each other," he said. "Even if the evacuation centers are cramped, they look out for one another."

    The Filipino Community of Seattle is already collecting donations for earthquake and typhoon victims at the center, but the organization also plans to hold a big fundraiser on Nov. 22 as well.

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