Area reaction to deadly typhoon: 'Being too far away makes you feel
|A graffiti is scribbled on a damaged home in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines. Five after Typhoon Haiyan devastated islands in the central Philippines, survivors are desperate for food and clamoring to be evacuated. |
|Sarah Ruiz Ligori of Streator and Mida Dittmar, who is a physical therapist at City Center Physical Therapy in Peru, are president and vice president of Filipino American Association of North Central Illinois. Ligori said they are only looking for monetary donations because sending a box to Manila would take 45 days. She hopes that local people and the Filipino community can rally some support for those hurt by the storm. She said people can go to the FFANCI Facebook page or call or text her at (815) 674-1998 if they wish to help.|
By Alicia LeGrand-Riniker
NewsTribune Reporter and The Associated Press
Filipinos in the Illinois Valley and abroad are dealing with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan which could be the worst disaster to hit their country.
Sarah Ruiz Ligori of Streator, formerly of the Philippines, said she did not think much of the original report that a typhoon was about to hit the country because of the number of typhoons that strike there yearly.
Angela Cielo, a medical student from Quezon City near Manila, recalls that on average 20 typhoons a year hit the island nation; however, she said this was different.
“Not only did it take an unusual path, hitting the areas rarely affected with typhoons, but the strength was also just overwhelming,” Cielo said. “It left many places with no power, communication systems down and many homes literally swept off. I personally know a lot of people who lost their homes and many who lost their lives.”
Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Friday with winds gusting between 147 to 170 mph and storm surges of 20 feet. It caused major damage to at least six islands in the middle of the eastern seaboard, with Leyte, Samar and the northern part of Cebu sustaining the most damage.
The official death toll from the disaster rose to 1,774 on Tuesday, reported The Associated Press, with fears of the final total being more than 10,000 dead. More than 9 million people have been affected across a large swath of the country, many of them made homeless, reported the AP.
Ligori who has family in Tacloban, the hardest-hit city, said she panicked after she heard about the severity of the storm. She started to call and Facebook her family with no response because power and communication systems were down throughout the region.
“Being too far away you feel helpless,” she said.
Ligori soon learned that one of her cousins had died due to the storm and has slowly begun to contact the rest of her family. She said the government has set-up phone centers at the police station and city hall so people can contact family members.
“It’s horrible. It is hard for everybody,” she said.
Mida Dittmar, who moved to the United Statets from the Philippines 20 years ago and works as a physical therapist at City Center Physical Therapy in Peru, said her family lives near Manila which was not badly affected by the storm; however, she has a lot of friends who were. She said there are a lot of smaller towns which were destroyed and are not yet getting help or coverage by the media.
Cielo is helping with the clean-up efforts through her school, the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Manila. She said a special committee is being organized to help victims in the hard hit Visayas region of the Philippines.
Edward Delos Santos of Manila is working with friends and other local residents to collect and package relief goods for the harder hit areas south of them. However, Santos said the destruction caused by the typhoon has caused major delays in relief efforts.
“Municipalities are totally wiped out. In Tacloban alone, dead bodies are lying in the streets. Food and water are extremely scarce as the government is having a hard time sending in both because the airport was ruined and roads are impassable. It’s total chaos,” he said.
The AP reported the day after Haiyan struck the eastern Philippine coast, a team of 15 doctors and logistics experts were ready to fly to Tacloban to help. Four days later they were still waiting to leave.
An AP reporter drove through the town for around 4 miles and saw more than 40 bodies and no evidence of any organized delivery of food, water or medical supplies, though piles of aid have begun to arrive at the airport. Some people were lining up to get water from a hose, presumably from the city supply, the reporter said.
The AP said doctors in Tacloban said they were desperate for medicine. Beside the ruined airport tower, at a small makeshift clinic with shattered windows, army and air force medics said they had treated around 1,000 people for cuts, bruises, lacerations and deep wounds, the AP reported.
Santos said he worries that the delays will cause more harm as people will be left without food, water, medical supplies and shelter.
“Presently, I think the goal is still stabilizing the situation,” said Santos. “Peace and order is trying to be maintained.”
He said there is an exodus of people going out of their towns to a more livable area and isolated communities still need to be reached.
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