US Secretary of State John Kerry. AP FILE PHOTO


TACLOBAN CITY, NOVEMBER 13, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Bong Lozada - United States Department of State secretary John Kerry on Tuesday said in a statement from Washington DC that the US State Department will deploy a group of American veterans to aid in relief efforts in areas damaged by monster typhoon Yolanda.

“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,” Kerry said.

Together with Team Rubicon, an American non-government organization that enlists war veterans as emergency responders, the US State Department will aid in the relief efforts in Leyte just as the group did in Haiti and in the US after Hurricane Sandy.

Buildings lie in ruins on Eastern Samar's Victory Island.PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN

Together with the Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund of The mGive Foundation, a US non-profit organization, the US State Department will coordinate donations via mobile phones for Yolanda victims.

According to Kerry, the United States has been working closely with its embassies in the Philippines and Palau, which are in constant contact with their partners in local governments to direct the relief efforts to the places worst-struck by the monster typhoon.

Experts from the US Agency for International Development are working closely with local agencies to evaluate the damage and identify the best ways in the continuing relief efforts, the statement said.

“Pentagon personnel are also deeply involved, providing logistical support to make sure relief gets to the right locations as quickly as possible,” said Kerry in the statement.

Also, the US government is organizing emergency shipments of much-needed materials to provide shelter to the displaced Filipinos.

Tacloban mayor’s wife recounts ordeal By Leila B. Salaverria Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:30 am | Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 780
Cristina Gonzales Romualdez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

TACLOBAN CITY - Neither the pull of power nor the sheen of celebrity could protect anyone from the wrath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

Officials of Tacloban City, which bore the brunt of the supertyphoon’s fury, were among those who escaped with only the shirts on their backs.

Having nothing else to wear, Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez had to don a pair of shorts—apparently among the items looted from a department store—which someone had given him, according to his wife, Tacloban Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez.

Cristina herself had to borrow underwear and shirts from friends.

But the most horrifying experience came at the height of Yolanda’s onslaught.

An angry wind

Cristina flew to Manila on Monday to help coordinate relief efforts, bring her children over, and also quell rumors about her supposed demise.

She spoke at a press briefing in Makati City, where relief goods were being packed for the typhoon victims.

The former actress recounted how her two daughters and their househelp clung to the beams on the ceiling of their guesthouse, where they had sought shelter, as the waters raged around them. The wind had blown off its roof.

“It was a strong wind … an angry wind,” she recalled, giving a high-pitched scream to imitate its power.

Psalm 91

Cristina’s husband was inspecting a nearby resort when the water came, forcing him and his aides to retreat to a ballroom and hang from the ceiling, as the sea tried to claim them, she said.

“We almost lost him,” she said.

On the morning Yolanda struck, Cristina and her daughters, aged 10 and 14, plus the household staff, left their home facing the Pacific Ocean to seek shelter in a guesthouse farther inland.

But such was the typhoon’s strength that the water went rushing in. Her children were afraid but she assured them they were not going to die.

“I was just praying. Praying and praying and praying with my kids,” she said.

She recited Psalm 91, a prayer for protection, and sang worship songs with her children.

‘Is this a movie?’

When the water receded, the family, including their dog, a German Shepherd, walked through the debris to reach downtown.

Cristina said she had only a few scratches and rolled up her pants to show a bright red gash down her leg.

But she still reeled from the experience. “Is this a dream? Is this a movie?” she remembered thinking.

Since then, she and her husband had been helping tend to the city’s shocked residents and doing what they could to restore some semblance of order.

“Everybody was a victim,” she said. “It’s not a normal typhoon where the (social welfare department) is here to provide help because they were also victims. So who was going to help?”

Driven to desperation

This was why she was saddened by reports claiming her husband could not be located in Yolanda’s aftermath. Publicizing their efforts and having their pictures taken while helping others were not on their minds, she said.

But she said she was very grateful for the help pouring in.

As for the looters, she said many were driven to desperation because they wanted to help their families.

“They just wanted to get food for their families and to survive,” she said.

She recalled that some of the people were sharing the loot with others, for example the clothes taken from stores.

Her husband’s aides were given short pants and her husband wore one pair because he had no other clothes with him.

Blame game

“Now is not the time to play the blame game. Rather, it’s time to unite and pick up the pieces. We have to bury our dead,” Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, a cousin of Mayor Romualdez, told reporters.

The congressman said he would not take issue with President Aquino’s remark that Tacloban officials did not seem to have been prepared.

According to the lawmaker, Aquino’s remarks were probably made before he was apprised of the actual situation.

“No one, not here or abroad, could prepare for this supertyphoon, this catastrophe of unprecedented proportions,” he said.

“Everyone did as much as was humanly possible to prepare … yet no one was spared,” he added.

House resolution

Cristina said that three days before Yolanda struck, local officials had evacuated people and warned them of possible storm surges.

She said officials chose evacuation centers that were sturdy but such was Yolanda’s strength that even the hardiest houses gave way.

“Even if that happened in Metro Manila, I’m sure the same thing would happen,” she said.

In a House resolution, Romualdez urged the President to place the entire country under a state of calamity. The resolution was coauthored by other representatives.

Romualdez said a presidential proclamation was needed to control the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities and allow the grant of noninterest loans to the victims.

He also said he would push for the creation of a commission to handle relief and assistance operations in areas battered by Yolanda.

Romualdez said he could understand the looters’ frustration since many were left with nothing but there was also a need to restore order.

This has not been easy because policemen and local officials were also victims of Yolanda.

Originally posted: 5:07 pm | Monday, November 11th, 2013


New storm could follow Yolanda’s path November 11, 2013 9:56 pm
by Candice Monique O. Brillon Correspondent

PHOTO OF 'MIRACLE' BABY NAMED Baby Beatriz Joy is held by her mother after being born on a pile of debris. AFP PHOTO

TROPICAL depression Zoraida will make landfall in Mindanao but areas pounded by Super Typhoon Yolanda will feel its effects, weather forecasters said on Monday.

Zoraida, the 25th cyclone to hit the country this year, is expected to make landfall in Surigao del Sur on Tuesday morning, bringing rainfall of 5 to 15 mm., classified as heavy.

The tropical depression is expected to be 160 km east-southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, it will be over Tagbilaran, Bohol and Iloilo City.

At least 17 provinces—five in the Visayas and 12 in Mindanao—were under storm warning signal No. 1 as the storm maintained its strength while changing direction and accelerating slightly after mid-morning Monday.

Weather forecaster Bernie de Leon said that as of 10 a.m., the tropical depression was located at 830 kilometers southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, with 55 kph winds near the center.

Emily Ortega rests on November 11 after giving birth to Bea Joy at an improvised clinic at the Tacloban airport.PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN

If Zorayda maintains direction and speed, it could follow the same path Yolanda took across Eastern and Central Visayas.
Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Island, Siargao Island, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Davao Oriental are signal no. 1.

In the Visayas, Siquijor, Southern Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Southern Negros Occidental are also under signal No. 1.

Zorayda is expected to be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Friday.

Weathermen expect Zoraida to be the last weather disturbance for the year.

Each year, 19 to 23 typhoons hit the country. This year however, 25 typhoons entered Philippine territory.
Pagasa weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said after Zoraida, the next storm will be named Alamid and next, Bruno.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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