Guam Community Gears Up To Help Typhoon Ravaged Philippines

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Prayers and fundraising underway to support disaster relief

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Nov. 11, 2013) – Community organizations and other groups on Guam are gearing up to offer support for victims in the Philippines who were hit by one of the strongest storms in history.

"The good Lord has spared us from a storm like this for a long time. It’s time we pay it forward to help out our loved ones and friends in the Philippines," Gov. Eddie Calvo said in a release. The governor plans to work with the Philippine Consulate on Guam and the Filipino Community of Guam to establish disaster relief efforts.

The Filipino Community of Guam organized a Mass of Intention last night at the St. Anthony Catholic Church in Tamuning for island residents to pray for those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Several religious institutes on the island also initiated collections to raise funds to assist with the tragedy.

The U.S. federal government has offered aid of monetary and military means. The U.S. Embassy provided $100,000 to help with health, water and sanitation support to those affected by the super typhoon. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed U.S. Pacific Command search-and-rescue ships and aircraft to the Philippines, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement saying America "stands ready to help."

Andersen Air Force Base, under the guidance of Pacific Air Forces, is currently monitoring Super Typhoon Haiyan and its impact on the Philippines, according to a release. Andersen Air Force Base has not been specifically tasked with aiding in disaster relief efforts in the Philippines but may provide needed assistance if directed to do so.

The American Red Cross has sent a couple representatives to assist with assessments, with emergency response teams on standby. Philippine Red Cross deployed their own assessment, rescue and relief teams to the affected areas.

American Red Cross activated its family tracing services for people outside of the Philippines seeking to connect with relatives who may have been affected by the storm.

The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) coordinated with local Philippine government officials to set up a satellite Internet service at the city hall in Tacloban City so residents may communicate with their relatives in other areas.

The Philippine Red Cross reported that flood waters were nearly 10 feet high in Tacloban City and Palo City during the monster storm, and The Associated Press reported that an estimated 10,000 people in Tacloban City alone are believed to have died.

An additional 300 were confirmed dead in Samar yesterday, another area of central Philippines, the AP added. The number of deaths is expected to rise as more areas are assessed by government and rescue officials.

Yesterday as of 2 p.m. Guam time, the DSWD estimated 9.5 million individuals, or around 2.1 million families, were affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan. More disaster assessment continues to be done, but with electricity and communication lines still down, the work will be gradual.

As rescue officials continue to evaluate areas of damage, the Philippine National Police sent 270 police personnel and 220 of the country’s Special Action Force personnel to the affected areas. Alan Purisima, PNP director general, said law enforcement will be there to keep peace and restore order.

Category 5

Three hours before Haiyan – locally called Yolanda in the Philippines – struck the central part of the country, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center classified it as a Category 5 typhoon, a storm having "maximum sustained 1-minute surface winds of at least 65 m/s (150 mph)."

Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist and co-founder of Weather Underground, said on his website wunderground.com that Super Typhoon Haiyan had sustained winds of 195 mph three hours before it slammed the Philippines, "making it the fourth strongest tropical cyclone in world history" and the strongest to ever make landfall worldwide.

Masters noted, however, that Super Typhoon Haiyan is not the strongest tropical cyclone in world history, but the strongest storm to make landfall at that wind speed. There are three other super typhoons on record with wind speeds over 200 mph. Super Typhoon Nancy, which killed 191 people in Japan in 1961, remains the strongest super typhoon on record, with 215 mph winds. Nancy made landfall as a Category 2 typhoon, as opposed to Super Typhoon Haiyan which made landfall at its peak strength.

Another possible storm

Meanwhile, another tropical storm is forming above Papua New Guinea and is expected to follow the same path as Super Typhoon Haiyan, tracking through the Philippines, according to accuweather.com.

The disturbance will not be as strong as Haiyan but will bring heavy rains to the already devastated areas. A predicted 2 to 4 extra inches of rain is expected from this system, which may trigger flash flooding or mudslides. Additional inclement weather may hinder cleanup and relief efforts currently underway.

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