“Imagine yourself on an island, no food, no clean clothes, no water, and you have probably two or three kids you are trying to feed. That would probably break your heart or even break your soul,” said Noy Lim, a resident of Maple Creek with family living in Philippines.
“… Those are the things that really break our hearts, seeing the young children dying of sickness and from their injuries from the typhoon.”
On Nov. 8 the typhoon, which was accompanied by 300 km/h winds, 15-meter high waves and 400 mm of rain in some places, swept through six islands in the Philippines. Currently the national death toll has risen to 2,275 people with an additional 3,600 injured. The most heavy casualties have been reported in the eastern city of Tacloban on Leyte Island, a city of about 220,000 which was destroyed.
The storm has left the region with next to no communication.
“We have no account,” said Lim. “Right now there’s no communication in any province that will tell us if anybody in that province, if part of their family died or if they are safe.”
When asked about the reaction of the local Filipino community Lim said, “Well, the reaction is they are kind of thankful that some of their family members in those provinces are not affected, but again we are just happy that it is done and over.”
Right now many Filipinos are focused on the aftermath of the storm and the number of casualties which is rising daily.
“People are getting sick, and on isolated islands and provinces people have no more medicine, no more food, people are fighting for food, fighting for water,” said Lim.
Days before the typhoon struck the area, locals began planning for relief efforts in Maple Creek.
Any donations for the Philippines is appreciated, but Lim noted sending funds to an organization like the Red Cross is preferable due to how expensive and time consuming it is to send a parcel to the country.
“For us to send a box as big as three-feet by two-feet it will cost $100 to ship and it will take probably 45 days to reach Manila,” he said.
Lim is trying to reach out to the Town of Maple Creek, to see if the municipality can accept donations on behalf of the Red Cross.
“It’s really devastating to see some of the videos and photos of the tragedy. It’s unbelievable,” said Lim. “Some of the people have said that on that day they thought that God was not in their presence. That means they’ve almost given up on their faith.”
“Two nights ago I talked to one of the mayors back home who I know really personally. They want the province to be declared under a state of emergency because there is no government,” he said, explaining that government officials, hospital staff, police and members of the army have died.
“Members of their government also have dead relatives, cops died in their uniforms, the armed forces the same, so there is absolutely nothing working right now.” Lim is hoping communications will be restored in a few weeks.
Premier Brad Wall has promised the province will pledge $250,000 in aid to victims of the storm. The federal government has also put aside $5 million in aid, and pledged to match donations Canadians make to relief organizations. In addition, the government has deployed DART, a 35- to 50-member disaster assistance response team to the region.
The typhoon is believed to be the deadliest natural disaster to hit the Philippines. The storm has affected 9.7 million people and 22 countries have pledged assistance. There are several countries with aid services on the ground in the Philippines, like the United Nations World Food Program, Unicef, World Vision, Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross. Donations to the typhoon relief can be made to the Canadian Red Cross at http://www.redcross.ca, or by calling 1-800-418-1111. Donations should be earmarked “Typhoon Haiyan.”
“The biggest thing now is how to save those who are getting sick and how to rebuild their lives,” said Lim. “Hopefully any help, no matter how big or small, will go a long way for those people.”