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Calamity in the Philippines

Author: Jim Diegel, President and CEO, 11/14/2013 8:30:00 AM

Many of you have probably been moved by the devastation in the Philippines as a result of Typhoon Haiyan that hit the provinces of Leyte, Samar, Bohol, Cebu and Panay last weekend with unfathomable wind damage and a killer tidal surge. The ruin experienced in Tacloban City and all the many villages up and down the coast and in the interiors of the provinces is heartbreaking.

The people of the Philippines and the country are very dear to me. My wife (Vicky) and I met and were married in the Philippines almost 30 years ago while I served in the Peace Corps on the island of Mindoro. When you spend two-and-half years in the Philippines, learn several languages and experience the culture, you can't help but be deeply connected to the people.

Fortunately, Vicky's siblings and our extended family in the Bikol region of the Central Philippines are safe. The typhoon's northern tip dumped a lot of rain and blew things around, but the calamity being experienced in Tacloban City (population 200,000) and the areas directly hit are simply beyond my comprehension. Imagine people losing their homes and family members – and having no clean water or food. This is a real crisis. The airports were damaged, the road systems disabled (there is only one main road than runs north-south through most of the country and the islands), and the inability to shuttle relief effectively by water – and you have the unthinkable. The logistics of relief are a nightmare. The Philippines has well-trained physicians, nurses and support personnel and a public health system, but the enormity of the destruction is overwhelming to even the most effective systems. The crisis is acute and real, today. The rebuilding and recovery will take decades.

Vicky and I have been riveted to the television, Skype and Facebook seeking the latest updates, all the while asking ourselves, “What can we do?” One thing I do know: Filipinos are incredibly resilient and generous people. They will push through this difficult period.

If the spirit moves you to help in any way, international aid organizations bringing resources to the country need our support. You may have your own favorite charity that has set up a fund. Or, you can also access the following websites recommended by the American Hospital Association to contribute:

www.redcross.org
www.usaid.gov/haiyan

Donating is one way that Vicky and I feel we can help and provide hope in what seems like a hopeless situation.

Thanks to you all. Or, as is said in the Philippines: Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.

Jim Diegel
President and CEO