Two organizations based in Connecticut are mobilizing aid to the Philippines, devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
The typhoon destroyed about 70 percent to 80 percent of structures in its path as it tore through Leyte province on Friday, police chief superintendent Elmer Soria said.
Rescue workers have struggled to reach ravaged villages along the coast, and survivors are foraging for food and searching for loved ones.
AmeriCares, based in Stamford, has supplies on the way to the Philippines, said Garrett Ingoglia, the organization’s vice president of emergency response. One of the group’s emergency managers also is en route to help coordinate where the supplies should be directed.
“We are sending two medical modules from Amsterdam to our partners in the Philippines,” each with enough medicine and medical supplies for 10,000 people, Ingoglia said. “We will work with [our partners] to distribute supplies to the needed areas.”
One of AmeriCares’ partners is the Order of Malta in the Philippines. The response is complicated, Ingoglia said, because there are as many as six islands that have been seriously affected and much is unknown about the precise amount of damage.
“This is going to be a big response from us no matter what else we learn,” he said.
Save the Children, an international organization based in Westport, is also offering aid in the Philippines, where the organization has as many as 100 people on the ground, according to CEO Carolyn Miles.
“We will be sending a lot of additional staff,” Miles said. “We have staff leaving from the U.S. tomorrow and staff from around the world that will be coming in over the next couple of days.”
Miles said the organization has people based year-round in the Philippines, some of whom were helping with relief after recent flooding in the area. A team from Save the Children was sent to the city of Tacloban in Leyte province before the typhoon hit; after several days, Miles said, team members were in contact with the group.
“This area of the Philippines is really prone to emergencies,” Miles said. “We have done a lot of pre-positioning of materials to be ready for emergencies.”
Although the organization is focused on children, the group helps everyone who is affected in disasters such as these, she added. Currently, Save the Children has teams in the cities of Tacloban, Bohol and Iloilo.
“We are hoping to reach about a half a million people in the Philippines … The first response is distribution of materials and household kits, and then we will start working on shelter,” Miles said. Survivors are in “schools or any building that is standing.”
Phone calls are not getting through to the area, Gullinese said. She has no idea if her loved ones are safe.
“I just want to know.”
The American Red Cross said Sunday that many phones lines are down in the Philippines. People still looking to connect with relatives can contact their local chapter of the American Red Cross to begin a family tracing case.
Story By Nicholas Rondinone, Hartford Courant
Courant Staff Writer Vanessa de la Torre contributed to this story. A Reuters report is included