PDA has set up account for contributions to Philippines typhoon relief

by Jerry L. Van Marter

Presbyterian News Service

Louisville – Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has established an account to receive contributions to relief efforts following the devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines Nov. 8. Donors may also text PDA to 20222 on their smartphones to give $10 (standard SMS rates may apply).

Contributions may be made through regular church channels, designated for account #DR000012—Philippines Typhoon.

PDA and it’s ecumenical partners—including the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Asia Disaster Response and Recovery Network, Church World Service (CWS) and the ACT Alliance—are readying appropriate relief responses to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

The initial response will include the provision of non-food items, material resources, drinking water, emergency shelter kits and cash-for-work-programs. PDA is also responding with One Great Hour of Sharing funds as the assessment is completed, needs are identified, and the appeal for specific assistance is issued.

The storm has been identified as one of the strongest typhoons in recorded history. A CNN report states that Haiyan was stronger than Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined.

According to the Philippine Red Cross, more than 1,200 people have been confirmed dead in the storm, but most unofficial estimates expect the death toll to approach 10,000. Several hundred thousand Filipinos have been displaced by the storm, which was centered in the central Philippines city of Tacloban, a provincial capital.

Many relief flights are departing from Manila to the hardest hit areas, though USA Todayreports that many affected islands remain inaccessible because of the damage.

Presbyterian World Mission has received word that PC(USA) mission co-worker Cobbie Palm and his wife, Dessa, are safe, as are all of the Young Adult Volunteers currently serving in the Philippines. Former General Assembly Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow, who is on a teaching assignment at Silliman Divinity School in Dumaguete, is also reported safe.

PDA is consulting with its ecumenical partners on how best to begin relief efforts. Communications were out throughout the weekend in the Philippines and immediate relief efforts are being hampered by the sheer extent of the destruction.

Local sources and international news agencies report severe destruction with damaged roads and buildings, downed power lines and telecommunications and flooded villages.

Damage to airports and roads is severely limiting access to the hardest-hit areas. A report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that roundtrip travel on the only cleared road which connects the airport to the Tacloban currently takes about six hours.

Haiyan weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall near the Vietnam-China border. While the impact of the weakened typhoon inVietnam is yet to be fully assessed, CWS reports it will respond there with recovery support if it is needed.