MANILA, Nov 11 -- The United States government extends its most sincere condolences to the people of the Philippines who are experiencing terrible losses in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda. As President Obama stated, “the spirit of Bayanihan will see you through this tragedy.”
The long-standing friendship between the United States and the Philippines allows the U.S. to rapidly respond in times of crisis. Working with the Philippine government, the U.S. was among the first to respond to the calamity. In the last twenty years, the U.S. Government has partnered with the Philippines to respond to more than 40 disasters.
Below is a summary of all activities undertaken to date by the U.S. Government to assist with the Typhoon Yolanda disaster relief efforts.
• Following a formal request by the Philippine government, U.S. Chargé d' Affaires Brian L. Goldbeck issued a disaster declaration announcing the immediate release of funds to provide health, water, and sanitation support to those affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda. The U.S. stands ready to further assist the Philippine government’s relief and recovery efforts.
• On November 9, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to conduct initial damage assessments in affected areas, liaise with other humanitarian and government actors in the Philippines, and recommend appropriate response options. USAID/OFDA also activated a corresponding Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team.
• The DART Team arrived in Leyte province ahead of other international government assessment teams, initially reported that in certain areas 90% of the housing has been significantly damaged or destroyed. The team continues to survey regions hardest hit by the storm, but representatives have determined that the damage is severe in multiple locations.
• According to initial assessments conducted by the DART, pressing humanitarian needs include emergency shelter supplies—such as plastic sheeting—to assist those who have lost their homes. In addition, the DART has identified the need for clean water, hygiene kits, and improved sanitation facilities—all to help prevent illness and death from waterborne and communicable diseases.
• USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance in Washington, D.C. has organized critical relief supplies to be flown to the Philippines from one its warehouses in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This will include a total of 1,000 rolls of plastic sheeting and 10,000 hygiene kits (soap, toothbrushes, toilet paper, sanitary supplies)—sufficient to meet the needs of 10,000 families. The commodities are scheduled to arrive by plane in the Philippines in the coming days.
• In addition, USAID’s Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) is organizing a shipment of 55 metric tons of emergency food products to sustain approximately 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for about 4 to 5 days. USAID/FFP is also planning to ship 1,020 MT of rice, which is currently pre-positioned in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The rice is sufficient to feed60,000 people for one month.
• The DART is also coordinating additional relief efforts with the Philippine government, international organizations, non-governmental organizations(NGOs), and other U.S. federal agencies.
• USAID is further working with the U.S. Department of Defense on the airlift of emergency relief supplies and the transportation of relief personnel to areas cut off by the storm. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Forward Command Element has arrived in Manila in order to support ongoing relief efforts of the USAID-led response to disaster-affected areas.
U.S. Military Assistance
• As requested by the Government of the Philippines, Secretary of Defense Hagel has instructed U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) to support humanitarian relief efforts as led by our Philippine partners. The Philippine government has already requested PACOM to provide airlift and other help through the U.S. Department of Defense Overseas Humanitarian Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) Program. The initial assistance includes maritime search and rescue, medium to heavy lift support, and logistical support.
• A Forward Command Element (FCE) and Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST), led by Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, the Deputy commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), and the commanding general of the 3rd MEB, arrived in the Philippines on November 10 to provide an initial assessments of support required.
• The initial focus of military efforts includes surface maritime search and rescue (SAR), airborne maritime SAR, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, fixed-wing lift support and logistics enablers.
• Approximately 90 U.S. Marines and sailors from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3rd MEB), and two KC-130J Hercules aircraft from 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW), arrived in the Philippines yesterday from Okinawa, Japan. They brought with them communication and logistical equipment to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
• U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific maintains significant capability throughout the Asia-Pacific region ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Without forward deployed forces, rapid and fully capable deployments to such disasters like Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda would not be possible.
The United States government continues to monitor the effects of Typhoon Yolanda and remains in constant contact with Philippine authorities to ensure that our assistance is timely and relevant to the changing needs of the situation. In coordination with our Philippine friends, the U.S. will help our ally recover from the storm and move forward.
Information for U.S. Citizens:
• The Consular section continues to receive inquiries about US citizens thought to be in the areas affected by the storm. The Department of State has established the Typhoon Haiyan Response Call Center, a 24-hour call center which can handle all inquiries regarding US citizens affected by the storm. Persons in the U.S. can contact the Call Center at 888-407-4747 from the U.S. and 202-501-4444 from outside the U.S.
As communications are re-established, the consular section will work to reach out to U.S. citizens to ascertain their status. (US Embassy Manila)