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Philippines Disaster Relief Effort Gears Up in Bay Area

| November 10, 2013
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Typhoon Haiyan wrecked Tacloban, a city of about 200,000 people on the Philippines island of Leyte. (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)

Typhoon Haiyan wrecked Tacloban, a city of about 200,000 people on the Philippines island of Leyte. (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)

Filpino-American community groups throughout the Bay Area are scrambling to send relief — both supplies and money — to help those in the wide swath of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. The tropical cyclone, possibly the most powerful ever recorded, swept across the center of the island nation on Friday (Bay Area time) with sustained winds of nearly 200 mph. There’s no definitive word on casualties yet, but Philippines officials have estimated the storm killed at least 10,000 people.

See the end of this post for list of organizations accepting donations.

KQED’s Nina Thorsen visited one of the relief drives Sunday in the parking lot of a car dealership in San Bruno. About 25 people were working with Project PEARLS, a group set up to help kids in the Manila slums with food and education. Project PEARLS was co-founded by Francesca Mateo, whose mother happened to be flying into Manila the day the typhoon swept through the central Philippines. Sunday, Mateo stood in front of a pile of miscellaneous donations, sorting them into about two dozen large cartons.

Volunteers with Project PEARLS pack donated food and supplies to send to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (Nina Thorsen/KQED)

Volunteers with Project PEARLS pack donated food and supplies to send to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. (Nina Thorsen/KQED)

“We have separate boxes for the toiletries, we have one specifically for the babies, like diapers and baby food. And then we have canned food, noodles, non-perishable items, soap, toothpaste,” Mateo said.

Jennifer Cortes helped put the relief drive together over the last three days, even though she’d been somewhat distracted. “My parents are actually in that area,” she said. “It’s been very, very difficult. It’s been three days since I last spoke to them. So when I, when I heard that somebody said that they’re all OK, I was happy.”

(Google has launched a Person Finder to aid those searching for family and friends in the wake of the disaster. Also, if you’re looking for a U.S. citizen in the Philippines, you should call the U.S. State Department at 510-595-4414 or  408-577-2054.)

Other volunteers stood on the sidewalk, holding hand-lettered signs up asking drivers for their donations. About once every five minutes, someone pulled into the parking lot and volunteers rushed to take boxes and bags out of their cars.

Another Filipino-American volunteer, Catherine Herbert, said she brought her 11-year-old son Cameron along to teach him the rewards of volunteering.

“When people need help, we help. And that’s simply what I’m trying to do today, is help,” she said. “… Seeing the devastation, I needed to just come out and help with what I could.”

The group said that by the end of the day Sunday it had packed up 47 cartons of goods and $1,645 in donations that it will send to the Philippines Red Cross.

Other local, national, and international aid efforts include:

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
  • Jessica

    thanks for the info. just one small correction: the telephone numbers you’ve listed are for the Red Cross which is helping connect people with NON-US citizens in the Philippines. People looking for US Citizens will need to contact the State Department at (888) 407-4747.

    • Dan Brekke

      Thanks, Jessica.

  • Alex

    What’s a good way to volunteer on the ground in the Philippines?

    • Dan Brekke

      Alex, good question. My guess is that aid agencies on the ground in the Philippines have their hands full and aren’t anxious to have to coordinate an army of volunteers on top of whatever else they’re handling. But remember that there will be huge needs after the immediate emergency passes and there will be a role for outside volunteers. Here’s a link to a post from the Global Volunteer Network, which has created a way for people to sign up to join future humanitarian missions in the Philippines: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/philippines/

      Note that I’m not endorsing Global Volunteer Network — you ought to do your own research on the organization or on any group you decide to join. (Here’s one research resource: http://www.abroadreviews.com/global-volunteer-network ). If you find any other such opportunities, it would be great if you’d come back and post them here.