Story Summary

Typhoon in Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan cut a path of massive destruction in early November in the Philippines.

It is one of the strongest storm ever recorded.  The death toll continues to rise with numbers near 10,000.

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It’s been almost six weeks since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippine Islands.  For those who survived, restoring electricity and rebuilding will take years.  But, as Steve Sanders reports, there’s a Chicago area group bringing light to one of the darkest places on earth.

“I’m handing out these lights and telling the stories of how it helps people.” Kevin Kuster’s calling to the Philippines comes by way of Playboy Magazine.  He was a senior photo editor there for almost two decades.  “We believe that every light has a story, and every family tells a story once they receive that light.” …like this fisherman. “My name is Fernando. I’m 41 years old and very handsome.”  “There was one gentleman in particular, Fernando,” says Kevin. “And Fernando just couldn’t have been nicer to me.”

Kevin met Fernando on a good fishing day.  He had caught four conch shells to feed his wife and four children.

Yet, this man who had no home, offered the food to Kevin.  His generosity was rewarded with a light from “Watts of Love.”  …”because I knew someone who had a heart like that would take the light and share it with his family, with his friends and would use it to help other people- not just himself.  Tell Fernando he’s got a new job.  He’s gonna have to hold the light while she cooks. When the sun goes down they live in complete darkness.”

Kevin’s sister, Nancy Economou, discovered the need for light in the Philippines five years ago.

She had met a burn victim, a little girl, whose face had been badly burned when a kerosene lamp, used for light, caught her house on fire.

Nancy knew she just had to do something. “I don’t know how to run a not-for-profit.  I know nothing about solar light. (LAUGHS)  …perfectly qualified.”

Though it took a couple of years, Nancy and her husband John, designed a portable, solar powered light, with a long lasting battery.  And this past February, started giving them away through the non-profit they founded called, “Watts of Love.”  “This is the unit itself,” says co-founder John Economou who shows us one of the lights.

It has had several re-designs and now includes a lightweight backpack with a built in solar panel.  And a USB port has been added with cellphone adapters so people can charge their cellphones and communicate with the outside world. So why do people with so little have cellphones?  “The cellphone companies give these people cellphones cause they know they’ll buy minutes,” says John.  “Watts of Love” began partnering with non-government organizations in the Philippines to identify families in need. “They basically get a light source that helps on their income,” says John. ”They also receive the opportunity to charge cell phones for a fee, which provides another way for a microbusiness or additional income. It’s really a life changer.” Nancy adds,  “Light is the fastest way to get a family out of poverty because it affects everything.”

The Economous saw almost immediate results.  Families with lights save money on kerosene.  And their children’s coughs are going away without those toxic fumes.

Light is also speeding up the rebuilding process.  School kids can keep studying after sundown.  And, medical facilities can stay open longer to serve the long lines of families with health concerns.

Their mission became more urgent after the typhoon.  But, while other disaster relief organizations are delivering food, clean water, and shelter, Nancy syas “Watts of Love” remains focused on light. “We’re committed to bringing 10,000 lights.”

Just this month, Nancy recruited brother Kevin to get onto remote islands over Thanksgiving to hand out lights and use his many years of professional photography to tell the stories of what a real difference light can make to families.  “When an entire island is completely devastated and no one has electricity, there was the poor and the super poor and the really really really poor. Everyone needed one. I can’t give it to the wrong person.”

One woman saved her children by climbing into a clay water jar during the typhoon.  She got a light.  Kevin got a great story.  And he says he came back a changed man. “You just realize how lucky we are, you know?  Even though they lost everything, I encountered so much joy, you know? Ya.  .  (SEE HIM WIPE A TEAR)   So  it was very special.”

It costs $35 to $40 to provide a light for a family in need.  If you’d like to help Watts of Love, go to our website at wgntv.com.

www.wattsoflove.org

Producer Pam Grimes, Photojournalist Steve Scheuer, and Editor Vicki Thomas contributed to this report.

A distraught mother who lost her young sons in the tidal surge of Super Typhoon Haiyan feels her life is over.

“I guess I’m just thinking to jump from that building,” Gelenbelle Vergara tells CNN’s Karl Penhaul on Sunday. “This is what would be my life’s worth. My sons are dead. I just pray that I also dead with them. What would be my life worth now?”

She combs the debris, scours the morgues and pours over the list of victims found in Tacloban, Philippines.

“I don’t have sons I don’t know if they’re dead or where their bodies are I don’t know if dogs in the street are eating their bodies already.”

Along with nearly 4,000 deaths, about 3 million people have been displaced, communities have been flattened and looting and violence have erupted.

The United States and Britain are bolstering their military assets to urgently help millions of hungry and homeless Filipinos — socked, soaked and dazed more than a week after the typhoon clobbered the midsection of the Philippines.

“Right now, the U.S. military capability is continuing to grow,” U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy told CNN on Sunday. “We need to get life-sustaining aid immediately out to the stricken population. Food, water, shelter, medicine — those are the basics.”

Kennedy said numerous aircraft — such a dozen C-130 cargo airplanes, more than a dozen MV-22 Ospreys and several dozen UH-60 helicopters — are being deployed.

About 9,000 U.S. troops are supporting the operation in the Philippines, a U.S. military official said. U.S. military assets have delivered approximately 623,000 pounds of relief supplies.

As the Royal Australian Air Force drops off another load of supplies and humanitarian workers in Tacloban — one of a number of nations helping this devastated country — the piles of aid stack up on an airport tarmac

“It’s chaotic, but every day, it’s improving, going out to affected communities very quickly,” said USAID official Ben Hemingway Sunday.

Thousands of refugees converged on the Tacloban airport terminal hoping to jump on the planes as they leave.

“I don’t know what to do right now,” one mother told CNN. “All I can think about is my daughters. I have to save them first.”

The British ship HMS Daring arrived in Cebu on Sunday to provide medical assistance, emergency supplies and clean water to stranded victims, the UK government said.

“HMS Daring’s arrival is a major boost to DFID’s disaster experts and medical teams already deployed in the Philippines,” Britain’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening said, referring to the Department for International Development.

“This Royal Navy vessel will help us open a lifeline and allow us to help many more victims of the disaster,” she said.

CaptureThe Philippine central government is being criticized for a slow and disorganized response to what all agree is a catastrophic event. The nation’s disaster agency said between nine million and 13 million people were affected in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities.

The United States and Britain are among nations across the globe racing against time to help Philippine authorities in a massive relief effort of delivering food and water to the devastated swaths of the archipelago.

When the typhoon hit the central part of the country on November 8, many lost their homes and electric power. As the days went by, thousands were scrounging for food, clean water and medical aid.

Nancy Lindborg, an assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told CNN on Sunday the United States has been focused “on getting the logistics up, bringing in food, shelter and getting the water system back on tap.”

She cited a bit of progress in helping the infrastructure in Tacloban, a major city that was ground zero for the typhoon strike.

“Yesterday, we were able to support UNCIEF in bringing the water system back on stream,” she said. “There are now 150,000 people in Tacloban being served by clean water.”

Crews continued to collect bodies from streets, with the official death toll raised Sunday to 3,976.
TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Tacloban, Philippines (CNN) — Desperation grew among Filipinos who’ve been without electricity or shelter for more than a week since Super Typhoon Haiyan reduced homes to splinters, prompting the military to alter rescue maneuvers, an official said Saturday.

“People swarm the helicopters, so we land the helicopters a little bit farther from the population areas,” said Maj. Gen. Romer Poquiz of the Philippine Air Force. “So before the people come in, we would take off, go and drop in other places, drop and then go, drop, go, drop, go, at various places.”

Several countries, including the U.S. military, continued to assist Philippine authorities in a massive relief effort of delivering food and water to the devastated swaths of the archipelago. The central government is being criticized for a slow and disorganized response to what all agree is a catastrophic disaster.

The U.S. military may rotate out the aircraft carrier group with the USS George Washington once amphibious ships arrive, a senior U.S. military official told CNN. Relief efforts were also showing a lot of field hospital capability, the official said.

Meanwhile, military planes and helicopters delivered foodstuffs, and some people carried all that remained of their possessions and were lucky enough to be ferried to refuge in Cebu.

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Royal Navy’s HMS Daring was scheduled to arrive Sunday morning and assist the relief efforts. An disclosed number of British nationals remain unaccounted for, Hague said.

The toll remains overwhelming with thousands dead, about 3 million people displaced, vast communities flattened and looting and violence erupting in Tacloban, a major city that’s the ground zero in the super typhoon strike.

Crews continued to collect bodies from streets, with the death toll increased Sunday to 3,681, according to the official death count.

The number of injured stood at 12,544, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported. At least 1,186 were missing.

The death toll could still climb higher, with an additional 1,000 cadaver bags sent to provinces, the disaster council announced as search-and-rescue operations continued in Tacloban City.

The national disaster council’s executive director, Eduardo Del Rosario, said the bags would be placed on standby, given that most of the bodies had already been buried in mass graves or claimed by relatives.

Cadaver bags are cleaned before being reused, he said.

The Philippines News Association reported Friday that five-person teams that include a forensic expert and photographer would begin using a “quick system” for the bodies on Saturday.

“Under the system, the public will not be allowed to view the identification process, but relatives will be asked to participate in the final identification of corpses at an appointed time,” it reported, citing the Department of Health.

Each team will be required to handle 40 corpses per day, it said.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that photos will be taken, identifying marks will be documented and belongings and tissue samples for possible use in DNA testing will be collected, when practical.

The arrival in recent days of hundreds of aid workers and military troops has seen a floodgate of humanitarian aid — food, water and medical supplies — open, albeit sporadically, in the hard hit provinces.

A senior U.S. military official said approximately 9,000 U.S. troops are supporting the operation in the Philippines. U.S. military assets have delivered approximately 623,000 pounds of relief supplies.

Under a hot sun, refugees held umbrellas as they waited in line for provisions. Some wore masks apparently as protection from the rot and decay of their obliterated communities.

The nation’s disaster agency said between 9 million and 13 million people were affected in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities.

A Philippino group on Chicago’s North Side is trying to find ways to get tons of relief supplies to the typhoon victims in the Philippines.

Non-perishable items and water are flooding into the “Philippino American Council of Greater Chicago, Inc.” at Southport and Irving Park in the Lakeview neighborhood.

The organization has more than 5,000 boxes of crucial supplies so far.

A military contractor donated a cargo plane to bring the boxes to the Philippines, but bureaucratic red-tape prevented its arrival at O’Hare Airport on Friday.

Gov. Pat Quinn visited the center on Friday, and said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin asked the Defense Department to grant permission to use the Illinois National Guard’s C-130 planes to transport the supplies.

The group says it may need three planes to bring everything.

Private and corporate donations have paid for a boat to transport three containers, but that will take four weeks to arrive.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this story.

Chicago’s effort to help the typhoon victims in the Philippines has hit a snag.

There is a mountain of donated food, clothing and other emergency supplies at the Rizal Center on Irving Park Rd., but only one cargo plane to deliver it; and it’s not yet clear when the plane will be available.

It was supposed to leave O’Hare later today; it may take two or more planes to accommodate all of the donations.

Organizers of the collection drive say they’ve already received 5,000 boxed full of donated goods; that more than 20 times what they expected to get.

By Jethro Mullen and Ben Brumfield, CNN

As cadaver crews collected more bodies off of streets and from underneath rubble in the Philippines Friday, the national disaster agency raised the death toll in the wake Typhoon Haiyan to 3,621.

typhoonweneedfoodThe number of those injured stood at 12,165, state news agency PNA reported, after the storm ripped up a group of the nation’s islands with winds more than three times stronger than those of Hurricane Katrina. At least 1,140 individuals are officially missing.

The fright-filled scramble to survive the storm’s fury, to keep heads above the wall of ocean waves it pushed in, faded away with Typhoon Haiyan’s winds.

But a week later, sickness, hunger and thirst have settled in with the sticky, humid heat and stench of rancid flesh hanging over the apocalypse the cyclone left behind.

Traumatized survivors under improvised shelters have kept watch over bodies of husbands, wives and children who perished and have decomposed in the sun.

Juvelyn Taniega tried to keep busy. She collected old dishes and cleaned them up, crouching on the ground near the spot where her home once stood and the place where she last saw her husband and six children alive.

She’s found the bodies of three of her children, but three of them are still missing. In days, she said, no one has come to help.

“My children are decomposing,” she said.

There are many like her, looking in disbelief over fields miles long of crushed wood and stone that once stood as houses, wondering if her missing loved ones are buried in them.

More bodies have emerged from underneath it, as the cadaver collectors’ cohorts in debris-removal crews uncovered them, while heaving away wreckage from the roads.

But the bodies that Haiyan had initially flung everywhere are becoming a scarcer sight, as cadaver crews pull up in trucks to collect them for mass burial in nameless graves.

Officially, 801 bodies were counted in Tacloban by Friday morning, but thousands are feared dead here.

Whole neighborhoods were swept out to sea.

Wandering children

In Tacloban, children have stayed children in spite of the wretchedness around them left by one of the strongest storms on record.

They wandered the streets Friday, satisfying their curiosity. Parents were often nowhere in sight — if they were even still alive.

Children are most vulnerable, UNICEF spokesman Kent Page told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. It’s hard to keep them safe, and to give them what they desperately need.

“Health, nutrition, getting them clean water, good sanitation, protection, and we have to consider education also,” Kent says.

“Schools have been wiped out and getting kids into child friendly spaces, where they can feel protected, where they can get a chance to play, where they can get a sense of normalcy back in their life after going through such a devastating experience is very important.”

Many families were busy getting their children out of town. Their mothers evacuated them, while their fathers stayed behind to sort through the remains of their destroyed lives, Tacloban’s mayor Alfred Romualdez said.

He advised other families to follow their example.

As many mouths as possible should be fed elsewhere, where there is more food and water, and children need to be in safety.

Turning a corner?

Major streets have freed up in Tacloban, once home to 220,000 people, but the hum of delivery trucks ferrying out aid is conspicuously missing. The fields of rubble have become a ghost town.

Many of the city’s haggard survivors have concentrated at the airport. A line of people eager to catch a flight out of the tragedy snaked around it.

As naval ships pushed up on beaches like gray whales and dropped their loading bay gates, people carrying over their shoulders whatever possessions they could rescue, strode into the bellies of the arks taking them to safer ground.

At the convention center, the hungry stood for hours in the sun in long lines awaiting the next load of food and bottled water landing in bulk pallets from around the world.

Some were there, because they had nowhere else to go.

“We really don’t know what we’re going to do next,” said 30-year-old May May Gula, whose family shares what was left of a room on the convention center’s ground floor with eight more families.

Reaching all the victims and assisting the survivors — including more than 2 million people in need of food, according to the Philippines government — are both priorities now.

Romualdez feels like his town is turning its first corner towards recovery. The mayor compared Tacloban to boxer who was knocked out.

After lying on the mat for a long time, it is just now coming to and trying to get back on its feet.

The relief efforts took a lunge forward Thursday, when the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier teeming with 5,500 crew, pulled into Philippine waters.

It was accompanied by eight more ships that, together, have 80 aircraft, including 21 helicopters that can deliver supplies to inland villages where roads have been obliterated and eyeball pockets of people in despair from above.

Endless debris has kept them locked in with their misery and slowed down aid from reaching them.

Irony of fate

Some typically called upon to help need help themselves.

Ryan Cardenas has helped with recovery efforts in the Philippine Navy after two cyclones in the past two years that left hundreds dead.

But when Haiyan slammed into the Tacloban naval station where he’s based, he and other sailors clung to rafters in their barracks.

Their commanding officer, who was in a separate building almost demolished by the storm, stayed alive by clutching a palm tree’s trunk.

Afterward, sailors helped retrieve some bodies, according to Cardenas. One found his mother sitting dead against a wall.

Now, they’re sorting through the wreckage of the naval station and awaiting orders.

“This is the worst,” Cardenas said, taking a break from fixing a piece of damaged furniture. “We’re both victims and rescuers.”

Concerns of violence

There have been reports of the threat of violence by groups looking to steal relief aid, but the U.S. military has said that violent crime is less of a problem than the debris blocking roads to those who need aid the most.

A Philippines senator said she’s learned of reports of rapes and other crimes against women, some allegedly perpetrated by convicts who escaped prison in the typhoon’s aftermath, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported.

Sen. Nancy Binay particularly expressed alarm after women said on TV that the situation had become worse, with assailants going so far as to break into people’s homes.

Someone to live for

Jericho, a boy whose mother, aunt and nine cousins were killed in the storm in Tacloban, told his father he wanted to leave the city on one of the planes he has seen flying overhead.

His father told him they have to stay.

“We have no money,” he said. “Just each other.”

Another man whose wife and child died said he can’t stop thinking of seeing his family drown in the storm.

“The first one that I saw was my youngest,” he said. “She fainted, and then she drowned. The water was so fast. And then my wife, when I tried to grab her, I missed her. Then she drowned, and then I never saw her again.”

Over the past week, he admits he has often thought of killing himself.

But he hasn’t, he said, because he still has one child who needs him.

CNN’s Jethro Mullen reported from Tacloban; Ben Brumfield wrote and reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Anna Coren contributed from Cebu; Karen Smith, Greg Botelho and Catherine Shoichet contributed from Atlanta.

 TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

A mother mourns the deaths of children who slipped from her grasp. A father says he’s contemplated suicide. A family prepares to rebuild.A week after Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines, the adrenaline-fueled response to the storm and its aftermath have faded from the streets of Tacloban. Now, the grim realities of daily life have taken its place.

Juvelyn Taniega is trying to keep busy. She’s collected old dishes and is cleaning them up, crouching on the ground near the spot where her home once stood and the place where she last saw her husband and six children alive.

She’s found the bodies of three of her children, but three of them are still missing. In days, she said, no one has come to help.

“My children are decomposing,” she said.

In other parts of the storm-ravaged city, help has arrived. Trucks carry food. Crews clean up debris. Workers line up bodies to be identified by families who’ve been searching for their loved ones.

Humanitarian workers and military troops from around the world have converged on the Eastern Philippines, racing against time to rescue and feed those devastated by the storm.

typhoon-planeThe horror is everywhere thanks to what was Super Typhoon Haiyan when it came ashore a week ago ago, packing winds 3.5 times as strong as Hurricane Katrina, pushing in a wall of water 15 feet high and washing away towns on many islands.

The official nationwide death toll from the typhoon had increased to 2,360 by Friday morning. Other reports suggested the toll could be far higher, with thousands feared dead in Tacloban alone.

The deadly storm left more than 3,850 injured and at least 77 people reported missing across the Philippines, officials said.

Reaching all the victims and assisting the survivors — including more than 2 million people in need of food, according to the Philippines government — are both priorities now.

A significant sign of stepped up relief efforts was Thursday’s arrival of the USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier teeming with 5,500 crew. It’s accompanied by eight more ships that, together, have 80 aircraft — including 21 helicopters — that can deliver supplies to hard-to-reach areas and conduct search-and-rescue missions for those still holding on six days after the epic storm.

Supplies running out at hospitals

In Tacloban, the bloated corpses of dogs lie next to body bags filled with human remains. The stench from wreckage hovers all around, as people sift through debris. A line snakes around the airport, filled with those eager to leave. Families huddle inside the city convention center, savoring their first rice in a week but not knowing when their next meal will come.

“We really don’t know what we’re going to do next,” said 30-year-old May May Gula, 30, a member of one of eight families sharing what was left of a room on the convention center’s ground floor.

Some typically called upon to help need help themselves.

Take First Seaman Ryan Cardenas, a member of the Philippines Navy, who has helped with recovery efforts after two other cyclones in the past two years that left hundreds dead.

But when Haiyan slammed into the Tacloban naval station where he’s based, he and other sailors clung to rafters in their barracks. Their commanding officer, who was in a separate building almost demolished by the storm, stayed alive by clutching a palm tree’s trunk.

Afterward, sailors helped retrieve some bodies, according to Cardenas. One found his mother sitting dead against a wall.

Now, they’re sorting through the wreckage of the naval station and awaiting orders.

“This is the worst,” Cardenas said, taking a break from fixing a piece of damaged furniture. “We’re both victims and rescuers.”

Senator concerned about crimes against women

In some cases, it’s not that there’s not enough food, water and other necessities. It’s that they are not being given out, because getting to those in need is so difficult.

The danger of violence — whether out of desperation or confusion — looms over the relief efforts.

Police warned a CNN crew to turn back Wednesday on the road south of Tacloban, saying rebels had been shooting at civilians.

“Maybe they are looking for food,” a police commander said.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, the commander of the USS George Washington’s strike group, acknowledged security is an issue. But it’s hardly the only one, nor even the biggest.

“Obviously, the conditions are pretty grim right now,” Montgomery told CNN Thursday. “But it’s not as much security as it is just the inaccessibility of the roads.”

A Philippines senator said she’s learned of reports of rapes and other crimes against women, some allegedly perpetrated by convicts who escaped prison in the typhoon’s aftermath, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported.

Sen. Nancy Binay particularly expressed alarm after women said on TV that the situation had become worse, with assailants going so far as to break into people’s homes.

Debris hampers delivery of aid

International aid has piled up at airports, blocked from distribution to the starving by miles of debris-strewn roads.

It is taking a long time to clear them and establish communications in to remote areas, said Philippines Secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas.

“Imagine a situation where from zero, from zero, no power, light, water, communication, nothing, you have to build the social infrastructures as well as the physical infrastructures for 275,000.”

In the meantime, U.S. Marines have transformed a sleepy airbase in Cebu into a buzzing center of activity that included cargo aircraft, tilt-rotor Ospreys and camouflaged Marines. The Ospreys can land in remote spots where there are no cleared runways, but crews still find themselves hemmed in by debris.

“Some of those neighborhoods are inundated with water, and some of it’s inaccessible,” Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said.

Roxas would love to see the assistance getting out faster. Still, he feels it’s doubling by the day.

Amos, the top U.N. humanitarian official, pointed Thursday morning to a continuing litany of needs — such as clean water, hygiene kits, hospital supplies, tents and other shelters.

The airport can handle more traffic, and roads are getting better and better. At the same time, Amos said, “We know that much more is required.”

‘Immense’ need

But can it come soon enough? That’s a pressing question in Guiuan, a remote community of about 45,000 people that was among the first areas hit by the full force of the storm.

Alexis Moens, a team leader with Doctors Without Borders, described whole areas as “flattened — houses, medical facilities, rice fields, fishing boats, all destroyed.”

“People are living out in the open; there are no roofs left standing in the whole of Guiuan,” Moens said. “The needs are immense, and there are a lot of surrounding villages that are not yet covered by any aid organizations.”

In Tacloban, those who survived say they have no choice but to move forward.

Jericho, a boy whose mother, aunt and nine cousins were killed in the storm, tells his father he wants to leave the city on one of the planes he’s seen flying overhead. His father tells him they have to stay in Tacloban.

“We have no money,” he says. “Just each other.”

A man whose wife and child died said he can’t stop thinking of seeing his family drown in the storm.

“The first one that I saw was my youngest,” he said. “She fainted, and then she drowned. The water was so fast. And then my wife, when I tried to grab her, I missed her. Then she drowned, and then I never saw her again.”

Over the past week, he admits he’s often thought of killing himself.

But he hasn’t, he said, because he still has one child who needs him.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

The massive donation drive taking place on Chicago’s North Side for victims of the typhoon in the Philippines now has a transportation problem on its hands.

For the past several days, people have been bringing their donations to the Rizal Center on Irving Park Rd in the Lakeview neighborhood and they continue to do so tonight.

Tons of the donated goods were expected to leave Chicago’s O’Hare tomorrow on their way to the Philippines.

Now comes word a private contractor who was to use a military cargo plane to transport the food and other emergency supplies cannot get the plane by tomorrow.

CaptureThe donations have been so overwhelming that it might take more than one cargo plane delivery to move all of the goods overseas.

Ron Vergara the organizer of the effort, spoke to WGN News about the situation.

11/14/13

Typhoon Haiyan: Websites to help you donate

typhoonhaiyanaftermathDevastation in the Philippines is inspiring people around the world to donate supplies and money to relief efforts.

But how can you be sure your donation is getting in the right hands? These websites will help you out.

CharityNavigator.org

Following the havoc of Super Typhoon Haiyan, there have been reports of excellent charity work as well as charity scams. CharityNavigator.org is a research tool that will help you choose the the best charity for you to donate to. The website has a 4-star rating system, and the most financially health and transparent charities get the highest scores.

WhiteHouse.gov/typhoon

At a news conference Thursday, President Barack Obama announced a new page on the White House website with recommended charities for sending money to victims in the Philippines. These charities are probably a safe bet if the president is recommending them!

Redcross.org

An excellent charity, the American Red Cross has made it even easier for you to donate to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. You may have seen a pop up in your Facebook newsfeed encouraging you to donate $10 to Typhoon Haiyan your organization on social media and be sure to share about your giving on Facebook/Twitter. Don’t worry — this one is NOT a scam.

It’s also a good idea to research charities you’re thinking of donating to on social media. If there’s a scam or concern, someone’s probably tweeted about it.

eBay/PayPal

Together, eBay and PayPal have made it easy to donate directly to charities, including several that are currently aiding Typhoon relief efforts. Donate directly from eBay, or look for the blue and yellow ribbon on products that have a portion of their proceeds going toward the Philippines. If you’re selling something on eBay, you can also easily donate to a portion of your profits to charity.

Other online resources:

9 Ways to Help Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

5 small ways to help those ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan from home

By Andrew Stevens, Ben Brumfield and Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

The U.S. Navy arrived with a mammoth aircraft carrier Thursday to bring much-needed aid to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who have gone without food and clean water for nearly a week.

The Navy cut short the shore leave of the crew of 5,500 to send it on the relief mission to the area ripped apart last week by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones on record.

typhoonnavyshipIts winds, 3.5 times as strong as those of hurricane Katrina, pushed in a wall of water 15 feet high, washing away towns on many islands in the south of the country.

Seven more ships accompanied the carrier USS George Washington. All total, they have about 80 aircraft on board that could participate in search, surveillance and distribution missions, said Paul Macapagal, a Navy spokesman.

But for now, they will lean the most on their 21 helicopters to carry supplies to hard-to-reach areas destroyed in the storm.

One of the ships, a nearly 700-foot supply vessel, made its first delivery of food and water to the devastated city of Tacloban in the Philippines.

By Thursday morning, the official death toll climbed to 2,357. More than 3,800 were injured and 77 are still missing.

The U.S. sailors arrive to a scene of desolation, where help comes too late for many, and international aid has piled up at airports, blocked from distribution to the starving by miles of debris piled up on roads to hard-hit areas.

It is taking a long time to clear them and establish communications in to remote areas, said Philippine Secretary of the Interior Mar Roxas.

“Imagine a situation where from zero, from zero, no power, light, water, communication, nothing, you have to build the social infrastructures as well as the physical infrastructures for 275,000.”

Only 20 trucks are operating and they are overloaded with tasks, he said. Half are delivering food; half are clearing roads and removing dead bodies that have been lying around since the storm hit.

He led a cadaver recovery team himself on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

The danger of violence also looms over the relief efforts.

Police warned a CNN crew to turn back Wednesday on the road south of Tacloban, saying rebels had been shooting at civilians.

“Maybe they are looking for food,” a police commander said.

Though progress is slow, Roxas feels it is doubling by the day.

72 orphans, no water

It is still too slow for 72 orphans in Tacloban, who will run out of water within hours.

Still, they are some of the happiest children in the capital of Leyte province, laughing and playing in the ruins of the Street Light orphanage.

Director Erlend Johannesen is determined to take care of them and keep giving them hope, after nearly losing them to the storm surge last week.

As it inundated the orphanage, where they live, he led the children to an upper floor veranda.

Haiyan’s winds howled around them, and the waves followed them upstairs. Johannesen helped the children onto a narrow roof.

They clung to it, until the storm blew over the town that many say was hit hardest. All 72 survived, as their city fell apart beneath them.

When the flood waters withdrew, Johannesen climbed down to find that salt sea water had contaminated the orphanage well.

He and his employees set out to find bottles of fresh water. Many people have given them tips on where they might find some.

“When we go there, there is nothing there,” he said. No international aid is in sight.

To prevent the children from dying of thirst or drinking polluted water to survive, he sees but one option left:

Get out of Tacloban.

Moans of despair

On their way out, they may find some food and water at a local clinic, but it would be no place for them to stay long.

Hospitals are overflowing with the injured and the sick. But they are barely able to operate, hardly supplied and often lack electricity.

The cries of the suffering echoed through a small, cramped one-story Tacloban clinic, where the medicine was all but gone Thursday.

“We don’t have any supplies. We have IVs, but it’s running out,” Dr. Katrina Catabay said.

“Most of the people don’t have water and food. That’s why they come here. Most of the kids are dehydrated. They are suffering from diarrhea and vomiting.”

Food and water are becoming scarce there, too. The military is airlifting out the elderly, children and the sick.

For at least one man, the evacuation came too late.

He died at the clinic. His body was put on a gurney and pushed to the end of a hallway because there is nowhere to put him, the clinic staff said.

“Pushing aid” to Tacloban

The uptick in international aid arriving in the Philippines coincides with the opening of a road into Tacloban, holding out the promise that food, water and medicine will begin to flow more quickly.

Some relief crews are circumventing the blocked roads, wastelands of debris and the danger of crime by flying over it, delivering aid by air into more remote devastated areas.

U.S. Marines arrived Wednesday in Cebu, transforming the sleepy airbase there into a buzzing center of activity that included cargo aircraft, tilt-rotor Ospreys and camouflaged Marines

They Ospreys can land in remote spots where there are no cleared runways, but their crews find themselves hemmed in by debris.

“Some of those neighborhoods are inundated with water, and some of it’s inaccessible,” Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said.

Marines will need heavy machinery to clear the rubble, and getting it in won’t be easy.

U.N.: Pace of relief slow

Teams from Doctors Without Borders have reached remote Guiuan, a village of about 45,000 that was among the first areas hit by the full force of the storm, the agency said.

“The situation here is bleak,” said Alexis Moens, the aid group’s assessment team leader. “The village has been flattened — houses, medical facilities, rice fields, fishing boats all destroyed. People are living out in the open; there are no roofs left standing in the whole of Guiuan. The needs are immense and there are a lot of surrounding villages that are not yet covered by any aid organizations.”

Six days after the storm struck — with more than 2 million people in need of food, according to the Philippine government — even U.N. relief coordinator Valerie Amos acknowledged the pace of aid is still lagging.

“This is a major operation that we have to mount,” she said Wednesday. “We’re getting there. But in my view it’s far too slow.”

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has defended relief efforts, citing the challenges posed by the devastation.

Above all, he said, the intensity of the storm took everyone by surprise.

CNN’s Andrew Stevens reported from Tacloban, and Ben Brumfield and Chelsea J. Carter reported and wrote from Atlanta. Anna Coren and Ivan Watson contributed from Cebu while Paula Hancocks contributed from Tacloban.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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