On Friday November 8th, 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines, leaving widespread destruction in its wake and affecting almost 6.9 million people across 41 provinces. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center announced on November 12th that approximately 1, 798 people had been killed, 149, 015 house had been significantly damaged or destroyed, and 582, 303 people had been displaced as a result of the disaster. While initial media reports estimated that the death toll would reach up to 10, 000, more information has now been made available, and the projected death toll has been revised to approximately 2,000 – 2,500. Secretary of State John Kerry promised the ongoing support of the United States:
“I want to assure the people of the Philippines and the many Americans of Filipino heritage that we are working as hard as possible to provide essential assistance to help the Philippine people and their government recover from this tragedy.”
In the wake of the devastating typhoon, U.S. Government agencies have moved quickly to organize essential aid and assistance to the millions of residents whose homes and lives have been ravaged by the catastrophic event.
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD):
On the day following the disaster, U.S. Secretary Chuck Hagel officially ordered the U.S. Pacific Command to assist the U.S. Government in carrying out humanitarian relief efforts and maritime and airborne search and rescue operations. The Department of Defense announced it would be working with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Ambassador based in Manila to provide ongoing surveillance of the Typhoon and support the government of the Philippines in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
Secretary Hagel further announced two days later that a fleet of U.S. cruisers, destroyers and Navy supply ships had been sent to the Philippines for estimated arrival within 48-72 hours. The fleet, which is composed of the cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54), USS Cowpens (CG 63), the destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), and the supply ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10), will join the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), presently stationed in Hong Kong with 500 sailors and 80 aircraft on board.
The aircraft, known as Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5), are specifically constructed for disaster relief operations, and together with the fleet of ships, will perform essential functions in providing food and water supplies, medical aid, and humanitarian relief as part of the recovery response led by the government and military of the Philippines.
The DoD is continuing to provide vital transport services in the Philippines, with PACOM flying emergency relief personnel to Talcoban, and transporting workers from the U.N. World Food Program, the GPH Department of Social Welfare and Development, and staff from the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster around the country using military aircraft to each areas isolated by the damage wrought by the Typhoon.
U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA):
In response to prior warning about the typhoon, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development stated that USAID had stationed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in the area predicted to be most affected by the storm, which meant that the team was one of the first assistance teams on site in the province of Leyte, in which approximately 90% of the houses have been destroyed or seriously damaged. The DART has now set up an Emergency Operations Center at USAID/Philippines in the U.S. Embassy in Manila, and is carrying out initial damage assessments in areas most affected by the disaster. With the Response Management Team (RMT) in Washington currently arranging the humanitarian response from the U.S. government, the DART is coordinating with government agencies on the ground in the Philippines prior to reporting back with their recommendations for suitable response strategies.
On November 11, USAID/OFDA pledged monetary assistance of $750,000 to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide water, sanitation and hygiene support and direct help for victims of the storm, especially women and children.
On November 12th, a shipment from USAID/OFDA arrived in the Philippines containing essential assistance including 10, 080 hygiene kits, sanitary supplies, emergency food for children and adults, nutritional supplements, and materials for temporary shelter. With a second consignment scheduled to arrive on November 14th, USAID/OFDA logistic personnel are currently organizing the delivery of the first shipment to the AFP air base, from where they will be flown by U.S. military airplanes to Talcoban.
Further assistance will be delivered on November 13th, as a USAID/FFP airlift containing 55 metric tons of emergency food from Miami will arrive in Cebu Province with supplies capable of feeding 20,000 children under five years of age and 15, 000 adults for five days.
U.S. Embassy in Manila:
Having declared a state of disaster in the Philippines on November 9th, Acting Ambassador Brian Goldbeck announced the provision of US$100,000 to be available immediately in order provide health, water, and sanitation support to populations affected by the Typhoon.
U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Total USAID Humanitarian Assistance to the Philippines
TOTAL USAID HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO THE PHILIPPINES