National Beat Reporter
United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sent U.S. troops into the Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 10, to help with post-typhoon humanitarian efforts. Typhoon Haiyan, also called Typhoon Yolanda, hit the island nation on Friday, and, according to Fox News, has affected roughly 4.6 million people.
The storm’s official death toll has reached 1,000; however, projections predict closer to 10,000 deaths. Filipino officials say they will have better estimates once communication and transportation technologies are repaired.
According to CBS News, Leyte Island suffered the worst. Officials say that as many as 10,000 people have died just in Tacloban, the provincial capital of the island province.
Tacloban city administrator Tecson John Lim told reporters that survivors are looting stores and markets.
“They are taking everything, even appliances like TV sets,” he said. “These will be traded later on for food.”
He continued, “We don’t have enough manpower. We have 2,000 employees but only about 100 are reporting for work. Everyone is attending to their families.”
The Philippine National Red Cross said that looters have hampered the large majority of their efforts to transport supplies and food into Tacloban. The United Nations has also initiated relief efforts; however, many areas of the region are still cut off.
The Philippine government was not afraid to ask for help. According to Colonel Brad Bartlett of the Marine Corps, the Philippines requested aid from the U.S. military. According to Fox News, the U.S. effort is expected to include 90 Marines and focus primarily on search-and-rescue and airlift support. Furthermore, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Saturday that it would pledge $100,000 for health care, clean water, and sanitation in areas devastated by the storm.
President Barack Obama expressed his sympathy for people in the Philippines.
“Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda,” he said. “But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippine people, and I am confident that the spirit of Bayanihan will see you through this tragedy.”
The word “Bayanihan” is the Filipino word for community spirit.
The president continued, “The United States is already providing significant humanitarian assistance, and we stand ready to further assist the Government’s relief and recovery efforts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm.”
The Philippines is no stranger to severe tropical storms. Since 1990, the region has experienced more than 40 natural disasters, including typhoons, volcanic eruptions, drought, and population displacement. According to meteorologists, the Philippines lies right in the path of the world’s primary typhoon generator; however, even by Filipino standards, typhoon Haiyan is catastrophic.
The United States continuously supports its longtime ally during times of need. According to CNN, the United States and the Philippines have remained politically, economically, and culturally close since the island nation’s independence following World War II.
As if the wreckage in the Philippines wasn’t enough, on Sunday, Typhoon Haiyan reached the coast of Vietnam, where, according to CBS news, 600,000 people have been evacuated. Fortunately, Vietnam has escaped the worst of the damages. The death toll is still unknown but is expected to be small.