More than a week ago, one of the strongest storms on record cut a path of devastation through the Philippines leaving thousands dead and even more stranded without food, water, shelter and basic medical care. Since that time, the Philippine Red Cross has been working
day and night to meet the needs of survivors. The Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) will do all it can to support and contribute to the international mobilization behind the relief effort.
Soon after the storm, the emergency responders at SEPA began taking calls from all over the United States from Americans anxious to have news of relatives in the Philippines. Bridge volunteers pass the information to the family tracing service at the American Red Cross. Although, we do not participate in the actual re-uniting of families, we understand that some who have called have been able to connect with loved ones in the past few days.
In addition, SEPA partnered with two news organizations to raise money for the relief effort. CBS Philly broadcast fundraising information for an entire day last week. In addition, SEPA head of Communications, Dave Schrader, gave an interview explaining the size and scope of the relief effort and made an appeal for financial donations. The following day, 6ABC hosted a Typhoon Haiyan Telethon, which raised over 17,000 dollars in one evening. Altogether, the American Red Cross has been able to provide an initial donation of six million dollars to support the relief effort. These funds will go directly to providing food and clean water, establishing essential medical care, providing sanitation and rebuilding shelters. The money will also go to repair and replace a fractured communications system so that relief efforts can coordinate more effectively.
The Red Cross knows that coordination is essential in the wake of a disaster of this magnitude. American volunteers with expertise in telecommunications and satellite equipment are already in the Philippines trying to help first responders communicate with international donors about the most desperate needs on the ground. Other volunteers from the States will help will disaster assessment, as well as accurate mapping of the area so that help can reach all the places it is needed.
Already, Red Cross volunteers are receiving recognition for their extraordinary efforts. An article this week in the Wall Street Journal explained how volunteers gathered in nearby Cebu City to clean out an former Energizer battery factory so it could be used as a distribution hub for supplies sent from all over the world such as temporary shelters, cots, food, water and essential medical supplies. The Philippine Red Cross is the largest humanitarian organization in the country, and it is currently distributing emergency supplies and conducting ongoing search and rescue efforts.
SEPA will continue to support relief efforts in the coming weeks. Once the disaster relief infrastructure is in place, the International Red Cross will be able to determine where the most pressing needs are and how best to meet them. In the meantime, SEPA is grateful for the generosity of Philadelphia area donors. Please click here to see our mission moment video showing our one week recap of local Red Cross response to Typhoon Haiyan
Written by Sarah Peterson