SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

November 13, 2013

Aid slow for hard-hit areas in Philippines

(Continued)

Most Tacloban residents spent a rainy night wherever they could — in the ruins of destroyed houses, in the open along roadsides and shredded trees. Some slept under tents brought in by the government or relief groups.

“There is no help coming in. They know this is a tragedy. They know our needs are urgent. Where is the shelter?” said Aristone Balute’s granddaughter, Mylene, who was also at the airport. “We are confused. We don’t know who is in charge.”

Damaged roads and other infrastructure are complicating relief efforts. Government officials and police and army officers are in many cases among the victims themselves, hampering coordination. The typhoon destroyed military buildings that housed 1,000 soldiers in Leyte province.

There were other distractions, including a jailbreak in Tacloban. Army Brig. Gen. Virgilio Espineli, the deputy regional military commander, said he wasn’t sure how many of the 600 inmates fled.

At Matnog, the port for ferries leaving for Samar island, dozens of trucks piled high with aid were waiting to cross. In Manila, soldiers loaded pallets of water, medical supplies and food into C-130 planes bound for the disaster area.

The U.N. said it had released $25 million in emergency funds to pay for shelter materials and household items, and for assistance with the provision of health services, safe water supplies and sanitation facilities.

The USS George Washington is headed toward the region with massive amounts of water and food, but the Pentagon said the aircraft carrier won’t arrive until Thursday. The U.S. also said it is providing $20 million in immediate aid.

Aid totaling tens of millions of dollars has been pledged by many other countries, including Japan, Australia and Britain, which is sending a Royal Navy vessel.

For now, relief has come to a lucky few, including Joselito Caimoy, a 42-year-old truck driver. He was able to get his wife, son and 3-year-old daughter on a flight out of Tacloban. They embraced in a tearful goodbye, but Caimoy stayed behind to guard what’s left of his home and property.

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