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Terrible devastation in Philippines prompts renewed call for aid from the United Nations

As pictures and eyewitness accounts continue to come in from the Philippines, depicting the terrible devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, the United Nations is launching a $300+ million appeal for aid from the world community to help the more than eleven million people affected by the storm. (Many of them are without shelter after the hurricane obliterated their dwellings).

“We are very much in support and we are focused, first and foremost, on the requirements for food, shelter support and medical support, to prevent the outbreak of public health disasters,” said the UN’s John Ging in a news release. He also pointed out that the bodies of many deceased victims need to be buried.

Typhoon Haiyan is one of the strongest storms ever recorded to make landfall – and perhaps the strongest, with gusts of nearly two hundred miles per hour. The accompanying storm surge was even more destructive.

Super Typhoon Haiyan makes landfall

Animated enhanced infrared satellite loop of Typhoon Haiyan from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Haiyan slammed into the Philippines a few days ago, wreaking havoc on Samar Island and Leyte, and leveling the city of Tacloban, where it is feared more than ten thousand people have perished. Transportation infrastructure was hard hit; many roads are impassable and airports heavily damaged, obstructing relief efforts.

As a consequence, the Philippines is especially in need of helicopters, which can get into areas that other aircraft and vehicles can’t.

Fortunately, the United States Navy has helicopters that can transport supplies and do search and rescue. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to leave Hong Kong and make for the Philippines at the best speed she and her escorts can do, according to a Pentagon news release:

In company with the carrier will be the cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and the destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89). The supply ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) is already underway and will rendezvous with the group as they get closer. USS Lassen (DDG 82) got underway yesterday for the region. Embarked on board USS George Washington, is Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5).

CVW-5 is a collection of aircraft designed to perform various functions including disaster relief and includes the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.

As needed, these ships and aircraft will be able to provide humanitarian assistance, supplies, and medical care in support of the ongoing efforts led by the government and military of the Republic of the Philippines.

It’s wonderful to see the Navy stepping up to help. Our capable and dedicated sailors and Marines are just the people we ought to be sending to assist the survivors. They’re well trained and they have the right equipment for the job.

Other nations, including Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Israel have pledged financial aid, medical teams, and supplies. The Vatican is also donating to the relief effort, with Pope Francis offering a prayer for the victims of one of the worst storms ever recorded.

If you would like to donate to help survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan, we suggest making a contribution to Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps is a highly effective charity based in the Pacific Northwest that specializes in disaster relief and improving lives in the world’s toughest places. They have a lot of experience working in hard-hit areas and providing immediate assistance to displaced individuals. They also have low overhead and administrative costs; 88% of funds donated in the last five years went to help people in need. They do great work and can be trusted with your dollars.