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The American Red Cross has dispatched telecommunications specialists with satellite equipment to the Philippines to help restore the connections from the island chain to the rest of the world after Super Typhoon Haiyan caused massive devastation there Nov. 8.
If anyone in the Twin Counties needs to communicate with family located in the Philippines, contacting the Woods River Chapter for help is the place to start, according to chapter volunteer Sharon Burns of Fancy Gap.
The local chapter office is located at 244 Beeline Drive, the phone number is (276) 236-2891 and the website is www.redcross.org/va/galax/.
The Red Cross “family tracing services” will lead to searches for loved ones in the Philippines.
The phone lines are down, so Red Cross workers wanted to offer this way of reconnecting families. “If there’s anybody in this area who would be concerned, we wanted to get the word out to contact the local Red Cross chapter, and they will start the process,” Burns said.
The two telecommunications specialists have joined with two disaster assessment specialists from Washington, D.C., to assist on the ground in the Philippines in the aftermath of the storm that affected a total of 10 million people, displaced an estimated 600,000 people and caused a still-rising death toll.
“The global Red Cross network is responding to emergency needs in the Philippines with food, water and relief supplies; and the American Red Cross is lending people, expertise and equipment to this massive effort,” according to a news release from the mountain region offices of the American Red Cross. “While Red Cross relief efforts are well underway, blocked roads, destroyed infrastructure and downed communication lines are making the response particularly challenging.”
The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized 1,000 staff members and 500,000 volunteers to provide relief. Burns said that, so far, a general call for relief workers has not gone out in the United States because of the difficult conditions in the typhoon-ravaged areas.
Locals can provide assistance through monetary donations to local chapter offices, as well, Burns noted. It’s much more efficient to send monetary assistance, as the shipment of goods will be complicated and take too long to complete.
The death toll could have been worse if not for Philippine Red Cross workers responding even before the typhoon struck and made sure that 125,000 families could evacuate to safer places, according to the news release.
“The Philippine Red Cross has begun distributions of relief supplies and volunteers are packing more supplies to send to all the affected areas,” the Red Cross information said. “However, delivery of supplies in the worst affected city of Tacloban has been significantly constrained by damage to local infrastructure.”