US assistance for Typhoon Odette tops P1-billion

Residents of Brgys. Trinidad and Taft, Surigao City, recover what’s left of their homes as Typhoon Odette flattens communities right before the holidays. Survivors also continue to clamor for food and water as supplies run dry. | Photo by Erwin Mascariñas/Greenpeace

PH thanks the US for additional $19-M assistance to Odette victims

DEPARTMENT of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. has expressed his gratitude to the United States government for its $19 million relief assistance, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines, to Typhoon Odette (internationally known as Typhoon Rai) victims. This additional assistance follows the U.S. government’s earlier donation amounting to $1.2 million.

“Our American partners are now the single largest country contributor to the government’s efforts to help our communities severely impacted by the typhoon begin the process of rebuilding their homes and lives,” Secretary Locsin said at a press conference announcing the additional funding. “You are indeed our allies, partners, and friends.”

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and U.S. Embassy CDA Heather Variava at the joint press conference announcing additional U.S. assistance to Typhoon Odette. Photo by Philip Adrian Fernandez/DFA

“We stand steadfast with our longstanding friend, partner, and ally in helping support communities devastated by the typhoon,” said U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) ad interim Heather Variava.  “This additional assistance will help deliver food and hygiene supplies, and provide life-saving support to those most in need.”

According to Locsin, the U.S. had provided an initial $200,000 immediately after the storm for emergency food and hygiene supplies and restoration of water supply and an additional $1 million earlier this week to support emergency logistical operations.

“We welcome the urgent action taken by the U.S. government in mobilizing funds and its people to support us in our time of great need,” Locsin added.

Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez echoed Locsin’s remarks.

“We deeply appreciate the generous humanitarian assistance from the US Government following the destruction and desolation left behind by Typhoon Odette,” said Ambassador Romualdez. “This relief package will definitely alleviate the plight of the typhoon’s victims, especially during this holiday season. The Philippines has benefited immensely from its long-standing partnership with the United States in the area of disaster relief, reduction, and recovery.”

The U.S. Government’s donations will go to the ongoing relief operations in areas affected by Typhoon Odette. The additional funding will be used to provide food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene programs (WASH), and help affected communities start rebuilding their homes.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos found themselves homeless and in need of shelter, food, and water this holiday season after Typhoon Odette struck the Philippines last December 16. Odette was the 15th typhoon that hit the Philippines this year.

To show U.S. support on behalf of the American people, CDA Variava plans to visit communities affected by Typhoon Odette and see ongoing U.S. relief activities.

The U.S., through the USAID Philippines, has actively and consistently supported the Philippines during calamities and disasters through humanitarian assistance and capacity building.

USAID works year-round to help communities in the Philippines prepare for natural disasters.  Through existing programs, USAID’s partners are transporting relief supplies, including enough food provided by the Philippine government to feed nearly 103,000 families.

USAID partners are also helping manage evacuation shelters, deploy mobile operations vehicles to support emergency telecommunications, and provide heavy-duty plastic sheeting to meet the shelter needs of 4,800 families.

According to USAID, the United States will continue to partner with the Philippines to respond to natural disasters and support Filipinos in their recovery efforts.  Since 2010, USAID has provided more than Php17 billion ($340 million) in disaster relief and recovery aid and boosted the disaster risk reduction capacity of over 100 cities and municipalities in the Philippines.  n

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at momar.visaya@asianjournalinc.com.

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