In the spirit of bayanihan, volunteers join employees of Resorts World Manila and Solaire in repacking relief goods for typhoon victims Saturday. Photo By Alexis Corpuz

MANILA, NOVEMBER 18, 2013 (MNAILA TIMES) Spearheaded by an American aircraft carrier group, foreign relief efforts have stepped up a gear in the storm-devastated Philippines eight days after Super Typhoon Yolanda left thousands dead and millions homeless.

Ships and planes from Asia-Pacific nations and Europe have converged on the belt of islands hardest hit by the typhoon, one of strongest storms to ever make landfall.

The air and sea-lift has also brought in emergency medical and shelter supplies from global humanitarian groups who have warned of the dangers facing remote, hard-to-access communities.

The United States (US) is by far the greatest contributor to the effort, spearheaded by the giant USS George Washington.
Below is a breakdown of the international aid being offered:

— In addition to the delivery of relief supplies, US military aircraft have logged nearly 480 flight hours in 186 aircraft sorties, moved nearly 1,200 relief workers into hard-hit Tacloban city and airlifted nearly 2,900 displaced people from the affected areas to date.
— Over the last 24 hours, more than 118 tons of food, water and shelter items have been delivered to Tacloban, Borongan and Guiuan, the US military said.
— More than 600 US military personnel are currently on the ground in the Philippines, with 6,200 sailors supporting air operations from the USS George Washington strike group. An additional 1,000 Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to arrive in approximately five days.
— Eight American MV-22 Ospreys — rotor planes that can take off and land like helicopters — are currently in operation, and eight more are being deployed.
— In other contributions, Britain is sending its largest naval ship, the helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious. Also from Britain, heavy transport planes carrying equipment such as 4X4 vehicles and forklift trucks have already arrived.
— British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Saturday that Britain was providing a further $48 million to help the relief effort, on top of $37 million already pledged.
— The United Nations, which had launched an appeal for $301 million dollars in relief funding, said Friday it had so far received $72 million.
— Japan has tripled its emergency aid package to more than $30 million and is preparing to send up to 1,000 troops, in what would be the country’s biggest foreign deployment since World War II.
— The European Union upped its contribution by $7.0 million on Saturday to $20 million.
— Australia has provided three C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, and the amphibious landing vessel HMAS Tobruk.
— Other C-130s — a warhorse of relief operations the world over — are being deployed by countries including India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan and Thailand, as well as by UN agencies and private charities.

As thousands queue to leave the devastation wreaked by the typhoon, a stream of passengers carrying food, medicine and water comes the other way, desperate to help family stuck in the medieval horror of the disaster zone.

Some have travelled half way around the world to rescue parents or siblings, while others scraped together all they could from poorly-paid jobs in Manila, begging and borrowing from friends.

“That’s my village,” sobbed Nick Cantuja, pointing to the shoreline as her ferry docked in the smashed city of Ormoc. “Our house is gone now. Everything… it’s gone,” she told AFP.

Re-zoning for Visayas pushedNovember 16, 2013 10:03 pm
by Rose De La Cruz

Residents wave to a US Navy Seahawk helicopter which dropped off relief goods in the town of Giporlos, Eastern Samar, on Saturday. Spearheaded by a US aircraft carrier group, foreign relief efforts have stepped up a gear eight days after Super Typhoon Yolanda left thousands dead and millions homeless. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE

The devastation from Typhoon Yolanda in most of the Visayas and parts of Bicol, Mindoro and Palawan highlights the need for a comprehensive re-zoning plan that calls for the retrofitting of land-use laws.

US-trained engineer Mark Sandoval told the Times on Saturday zoning and urban planning programs have to be revisited and adopted to present-day realities.

Sandoval, general manager of Ambitech Asia, one of the leading American engineering companies in the world that just set up shop in the Philippines, said the areas hardest hit by the typhoon are peninsulas surrounded by big bodies of water that are prone to tsunamis and storm surges. The houses in the peninsula, which are heavy at the base but light on the roof and lacks what Sandoval called uplifts, simply are not flood-resistant or cannot withstand savage winds like the ones whipped up by Yolanda.

Sandoval, who has been involved in the construction of high-rise buildings in the US, said the areas are not really suitable for housing or habitation but are best left as “open spaces or park.”

He said “what needs to be done in the near future is massive rezoning and review of actual easements, look at and revise the building and housing codes to make sure that people are located in safer grounds.”

“The Visayas and Mindanao don’t lack space to relocate the houses. It’s not like New York where land is very scarce and we have to make do with what we have.

There are still a lot of spaces to locate our houses and industries,” he said.

Protecting historical sites like ports, airports and churches will cost more because of the need to build super high rise surge walls.

Sandoval said 40 years ago a scientist in Japan set up wall to defend a coastal town from tsunamis. He was ridiculed for going ahead with the project but the wall save the town from the tsunami of 2010.

He said that during the Philippine Economic Society workshop last Friday, even the planning and budget secretaries downplayed the impact of the damage in Yolanda-affected areas to the country’s gross national product.

Those areas depended mainly on tourism and were not manufacturing or agriculture hubs.

Sandoval suggested that the typhoons victims be temporarily housed in tent cities while the devastated areas are rebuilt and manufacturing industries brought in to provide the victims with livelihood.

New factories can be set up in the “restored” areas located on higher and safer grounds to provide people with alternatives to fishing, farming and tourism. This way, these areas can contribute significantly to the GNP, he said.

Sandoval finished his masters in construction management in Berkeley and taught in engineering schools.

He ran his own business before joining Ambitech in the US.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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