Showing posts with label Hurricane/ Storm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hurricane/ Storm. Show all posts

November 7, 2016

Clinton’s Qualifications Sustains Her Through Sea of Lies and Attempts to Cheat


Federal judges in two states issued rulings Friday as allegations swirled about potential issues at the polls -- saying registration rolls were "likely" illegally purged in North Carolina and barring the Trump campaign from intimidating voters in Ohio.
In the Ohio case, a federal judge imposed a temporary restraining order on the Trump campaign, political operative and sometimes Trump adviser Roger Stone, and a group called Stop the Steal, Inc. which is associated with Stone, from “conspiring to intimidate, threaten, harass, or coerce voters on Election Day.”
The order also extends to the Clinton campaign, even though there was no allegation of wrongdoing against them in the suit, brought by the Ohio Democratic Party. They are prohibited from hindering voters "from reaching or leaving the polling place," engaging in any unauthorized "poll watching," or gathering or loitering near polling places unless they plan to vote. Trump has repeatedly called for his supporters to watch the polls for voter fraud and said the election would be “rigged."

Separately, a North Carolina judge ruled today that the purging of voters names off registration rolls in the state "likely" violated the National Voter Registration Act and issued a preliminary injunction that ordered all steps to be taken to allow those individuals to vote. A suit alleging improprieties was brought by the NAACP which claimed that there are “thousands of North Carolina voters who have been targeted in coordinated, en masse challenge proceedings brought in the final weeks and months before Election Day." During a campaign rally in Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, President Obama decried the recent claims that voters’ names were allegedly being systematically removed from voter registration rolls in the state.
"The list of voters Republicans tried to purge were two-thirds black and Democratic,” he charged. “That doesn't happen by accident. It's happening in counties across this state.”
"There was a time when systematically denying black folks to vote was considered normal as well. ... It was not that long ago that folks had to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap or recite the Constitution in Chinese in order to vote. It wasn't that long ago when folks were beaten trying to register voters in Mississippi," he added.
Voter roll purges have come up in other states in the past few months and during the primaries, as state and county boards of election try to update their rolls to clear them of anyone who has died or moved out of state.
Voter intimidation cases are also cropping up around the country. Cases were heard in Nevada and Arizona on Thursday, and another will be held in Pennsylvania on Monday.
In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Bruce Breemer said today that his office and the Pennsylvania State Police "are investigating a pattern of voter registration irregularities across the Commonwealth" but said "it is premature to reach any conclusion. At this stage of the investigation there is no evidence of voter fraud."
And in Michigan today, the Michigan Democratic Party filed a lawsuit alleging that the Trump campaign along with the Michigan Republican Party, are conspiring to intimidate minorities from voting.
The plaintiffs in that case are asking a federal judge in Michigan to stop Republican operatives from tactics that plaintiffs say are unlawfully aimed at suppressing Democratic votes across the state, especially in urban areas where large shares of African Americans are likely to vote for Hillary Clinton.
In the lawsuit, Democrats accuse Trump of using the potential for voter fraud as a pretext for encouraging supporters to show up at polling places ostensibly to stop people from casting multiple ballots.
The plaintiffs alleged that Trump's heated, racially-tinged rhetoric has led to a kind of domino effect, accelerated by associate Roger Stone, a named defendant, as well as Republican party officials in Michigan who have encouraged "roving poll watchers in places like Detroit."
The lawsuit cites a Trump supporter quoted in a press report saying his election-day plans includes racially profiling voters at polling places to "make them a little bit nervous."
“Trump’s calls for his supporters to travel en masse outside their counties of residence and engage in vigilante voter intimidation bear no possible relationship to legitimate efforts to protect against voter fraud,” the complaint states. “In fact, Trump has directed his supporters to engage in activity forbidden by Michigan state election law.” There was no immediate response from the Trump campaign.
In another case, a New Jersey federal judge today heard allegations that the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee were coordinating voter intimidation efforts, despite a legal settlement that prohibits the RNC from participating in any "ballot security" efforts. The RNC claims it has no oral or written agreements with the Trump campaign regarding “voter fraud, ballot security, ballot integrity, poll watching or poll monitoring.”
The issue of voter intimidation efforts is one of the most pressing versions of disenfranchisement in this year's race, said Myrna Perez, the deputy director of New York University's Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program.
Perez said their watchdog organization has seen examples of "both the lawful disenfranchisement and the unlawful disenfranchisement" of voters throughout the past year or two. She included restrictive voter ID laws and the Supreme Court's 2013 changes to the Voting Rights Act as examples of "lawful" disenfranchisement, but those are not the focus of the last-minute court actions under way now.
"I think in this instance, for the first half of the year, people were concerned about the formal state policies and practices and, right now, folks are concerned about what may be happening on Election Day,” she said.
“What happens when individuals get involved in monitoring and policing our polls, and what unofficial actors are going to be doing.”
But responsible poll monitoring is still important to help combat voter fraud, Michael Thielen, executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association, said. "Every fraudulent vote overrides a legitimate, real vote and disenfranchises an honest, eligible voter,” Thielen told ABC News. ABC News’ Julia Jacobo and John Kruzel contributed to this report.

  • October 6, 2016

    Here is Your Own Hurricane Tracker for Matthew

    August 31, 2014

    Labor Day 1935 Hurricane

    There was little advanced warning 79 years ago when a monster storm with winds approaching 200 mph and a storm surge of up to 18 feet pummeled a 40-mile swath of the Florida Keys, leaving in its wake devastating destruction and death.
    Today, only a few survivors of the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 are still alive. But their stories and those of the approximately 500 people who were killed by the Category 5 storm will live on in black and white photographs collected over the years by Jerry Wilkinson, the longtime president of the Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys.
    For the first time, a large portion of the collection is being displayed for public view in an exhibit that will run through Nov. 9 at the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada, not far from where the storm blew a “relief” train off tracks that were built by oil tycoon Henry Flagler.
    “It seems like people like disasters,” Wilkinson said about why people are interested in a hurricane that occurred before most were born. “I guess because it’s spectacular, like the Great Chicago fire [of 1871] and the earthquake now in California.”
    The exhibit features 85 photographs, a few of them graphic. Wilkinson provided all but five pictures that came from the History Miami museum.
    It also includes storyboards that provide a brief history of weather forecasting and details about the weather advisories given during the deadly weekend. There’s also a mid-1990s documentary Hurricane ’35: The Deadly Deluge, being shown continuously at the exhibit. It includes vintage footage and interviews with Wilkinson and several survivors.
    And along one wall is a fascinating map created by the coroner’s office that documents several makeshift cremation sites and the scattered locations of the 423 bodies (each named) that were found in the direct aftermath. Some people’s remains were never found and others were exposed later, including a few skeletons found in a Ford that was uncovered during a dredging project.
    Together, the exhibit provides a comprehensive display of a hurricane that remains the strongest ever to directly hit the United States. And it shows the destruction and horror it brought to a sleepy part of the Keys.
    It’s a horror that Charlie Roberts described four years ago during a program for the 75th anniversary. He was one of seven survivors who told riveting first-hand accounts.
    Roberts was just 7, living on Windley Key near the rock quarry where veterans from World War I were working on public works projects including building bridges for vehicles. At that point, there were only railroad bridges between some of the islands.
    Roberts recalled the roof blowing off their row house and his father dragging him by the straps of his overalls into their family Ford. “Eleven of us got into the car,” he said. “That’s the only thing that saved us.”

     The water flooded inside, but they had enough room to breathe. Roberts said, though, that he will never forget the plight of the veterans, who had taken cover in a rock pit dug six to eight feet deep.
    “When the water came, they drowned like rats,” he said. “You could hear them screaming all night long. I mean just screaming and hollering for help, and we couldn’t get out and help them.”
    Bertelli said he pored over hundreds of Wilkinson’s pictures about the hurricane, the Veteran Work camps and the aftermath to come up with a selection that told the complete story.
    “There was some concern how graphic to go,” Bertelli said. “We were told we have to tell the story, and to do that we had to show some dead bodies because 500 people died.”
    There likely would have been many more casualties, but since it was a holiday, many people had left the area to celebrate in either Miami or Key West.
    Most who stayed put did not know until Labor Day morning and afternoon, on Sept. 2, that what had first been forecast as a relatively nondescript tropical disturbance was turning into a scary storm that was headed right for them. Some stayed, thinking they could weather the storm. Others did not have the means to leave. And the relief train sent to evacuate veterans and others was sent too late and then was struck directly by the storm. The railroad would never again operate along the island chain.
    Relief workers arrived after the storm to face the huge job of figuring out how to handle all the dead.
    One photograph shows wooden coffins about to be loaded on ships and taken to Miami, where they were sealed in copper caskets and buried at Woodlawn Cemetery. Those coffins carried the remains of about 109 veterans.
    Another photograph shows American flags placed upon the caskets as they were being put into the ground. The government paid $100 each to have those veterans from World War I properly buried.
    But with so many bodies baking in the heat and humidity days after the storm hit, the governor ordered that the bodies be burned to prevent disease. One photograph shows a gun salute honoring the dead, which were placed in wooden boxes stacked on top of each other in four or five layers. After the ceremony, the bodies were cremated at several makeshift sites along the path of destruction.
    One photo depicts the building of a monument to memorialize the dead, with a crypt that contains the cremated remains of hundreds. The monument is located near mile marker 82, a short drive from the exhibit.
    Some pictures showed hope. As curator Brad Bertelli hung the exhibit, he pulled out one of his favorite newspaper photos that showed a young man, Alonzo Cothran, in a floppy hat holding his pet pig.
    “His family went up to Miami to ride out the storm,” Bertelli said. “But before he left, he put the pig in a crate in the garage and let some ducks go free, figuring they could go under the house to weather the storm.”                  
    When Cothran returned, his home was gone. “But he hears some squealing,” Bertelli said. “The pig had broken free from the crate and dug a hole. When Alonzo came back, the pig came running at him like a dog.”
    Some of the ducks were found, too, albeit very thirsty with all the fresh water now contaminated with saltwater.
    The exhibit hits home with Richard Russell, president of the Keys History & Discovery Center. His father, Warren “Bones” Russell, was just a boy when the storm hit.
    Bones’ father told him to hold onto a coconut tree as tightly as he could. After the storm passed, Red Cross workers arrived and found the kid unconscious, covered in sea weed and palm fronds and thought he was dead. As they were pulling out a body bag, Bones moved.
    But so many others were not so lucky, including 38 other members of the extended Russell family. Only 15 members of the family survived, Bertelli said.
    Wilkinson said he did not spend endless hours and unknown amounts of his own money collecting the photographs for monetary reasons. Most are not originals but copies of pictures he took with his Nikon camera and a macro lens, steadying the shot with a “camera stand.” Wilkinson said he collected them for their historical value.
    His house in Tavernier is filled with thousands of copied photographs put into binders that feature all aspects of Upper Keys history. His house also is filled with boxes of copied documents, original documents, diaries and newspaper clippings.
    Some photographs were copies of Miami Herald originals that an executive in the newsroom had glued together in a collage to hang on his wall as art.
    “He was ready to get rid of the collage because the pictures were getting old and he had a nice new Venetian Shores house,” Wilkinson said. “So he agreed to let me take them apart, and not worry if I messed them up.”
    Wilkinson had a darkroom and knew which chemicals to use on the emulsion of the prints. He soaked them in a big flat tray for about two weeks, ending up with about 25 to 30 separate photographs.
    “I had to give the photographs back because they came out so good, he wanted them back,” Wilkinson said.
    It was not until 1996 that Wilkinson got a scanner, which made copying the photographs much easier and less expensive.
    Many of them he collected during summer RV trips around the Southeast with his wife. They would stop at museums, universities, libraries and state archives scouring for any history related to the Upper Keys.
    “History has no ownership,” said Wilkinson, who turns 86 on Monday. “I want to die knowing that these pictures hopefully will be saved in perpetuity.”


    pics obtain by adamfoxie

    Read more here:

    November 17, 2013

    Air Delivery Speeding Up While Thousands Dead and Missing

    MANILA, Philippines - Substantial amounts of food and medical aid finally began reaching desperate survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte and Eastern Samar yesterday, but humanitarian groups said huge logistical challenges in accessing devastated, remote island communities lie ahead.
    President Aquino is scheduled to arrive in Tacloban City today to check on the progress of and supervise relief operations.
    The government said it had air-dropped tons of relief goods over far-flung towns still inaccessible by land.
    The unprecedented ferocity of the Nov. 8 typhoon and the scale of destruction had completely overwhelmed the initial relief effort, leaving millions in the worst hit Leyte and Samar provinces hurt, homeless and hungry, with no power or water.
    After eight days, a working aid pipeline was in place on the ground, funneling emergency supplies to those left destitute in the ruins of Leyte’s Tacloban City, while helicopters flying off the aircraft carrier USS George Washington brought some relief to outlying areas.
    Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, in a press briefing held at the Leyte Sports Center, said 38 of the 40 municipalities in the province had been reached by aid, particularly sacks of rice, canned goods and water.
    Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
    “We also dropped 830 food packs by the remote villages,” Roxas said. The transcript of his interview was made available in Manila by Malacañang.
    He said they had to resort to airdrop to reach remote villages in the mountains whose inhabitants could not go down to the city.
    In Ormoc City, 15 of the 17 towns had been provided with relief assistance, Roxas said.
    Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang, who was with Roxas in Tacloban City, would later say all 40 towns in Leyte had in fact received assistance.
    E. Samar gets help
    He also said Eastern Samar was getting much-needed help but admitted rehabilitation and rebuilding may take time.
    Earlier, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone lamented that his province had ceased to exist after being battered by Yolanda.
    Carandang, who was back in Tacloban City yesterday after visiting Guiuan in Eastern Samar, said the town was not hit by storm surges and that the real impact of Yolanda was most evident in the towns south of the provincial capital Borongan.
    According to Carandang, the local government of Guiuan remained fully functional and was assisting the national government in relief efforts.
    “Guiuan itself serves as a hub from which relief goods are sourced for affected towns in Eastern Samar,” Carandang said, noting that relief efforts in the area were well-organized and well-coordinated.
    Carandang said relief and rescue teams were provided the necessary resources for their operations.
    “Funds for these are provided by the national government, while the local government unit handles operations, and foreign groups and missions handle logistics. For example, the US Marines are serving as a logistical support contingent, while missions from France provide medical services,” Carandang said.
    “Power, telecommunications and fuel scarcity are among the concerns confronted by Guiuan,” he said, adding that he would communicate with both telecommunications companies Smart and Globe to ensure their improved and uninterrupted service.
    The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for its part, said it would set up a tent city in Basey, Western Samar to house displaced typhoon survivors.
    A fuel depot may also be set up in Western Samar to address the fuel needs in affected areas, he said.
    Around 200 people in Guiuan have expressed desire to go to Manila. To facilitate their transport, Carandang said they would coordinate with the proper authorities to arrange for a roll on-roll off trip for them.
    Carandang said the nine towns between Guiuan and Borongan were quite difficult to reach, but the government was already doing its best to provide them relief.
    Roxas said US helicopters, particularly the Osprey, were helping in the delivery of relief goods to areas in Eastern Samar inaccessible by land.
    Roxas said it was also good that officials were able to personally reach them and tell them what they needed, including gasoline.
    He said they opened a route – Catbalogan to Borongan – so that fuel and relief goods could be transported easily.
    Of the 24 towns in Eastern Samar, nine remained largely inaccessible.
    “The so-called main supply routes, whether by land or by air or by sea, must be established from outside. You cannot rely on anything here. Even trucks, everything – payloader, dump truck – because all the equipment here were destroyed, inundated and would no longer start,” Roxas said.
    Carandang explained that delivery of goods picked up as roads reopened.
    “The problem is with logistics, not lack of coordination or being disorganized. The airports and sea ports are just really fully loaded,” Carandang said, defending Roxas from criticisms that there was lack of action or coordination from the ground. He said other routes were being explored.
    Carandang said even the passengers at the Tacloban City airport wanting to leave had been taken care of, although there were still chance passengers waiting for a flight.
    Since many wanted to leave, Carandang said they had to prioritize the sick, the elderly and those with tickets.
    Unclogging Matnog
    Roxas, meanwhile, said the government was working hard to address bottlenecks and decongest ports like the one in Matnog, Sorsogon.
    He said it was Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya’s task to manage and organize the transport of relief goods and other humanitarian assistance.
    Roxas said more Army trucks would be deployed for delivery of relief goods.
    Shipping lines, on the other, have been asked to allocate 75 percent of space on their vessels for relief goods and only 25 percent for passengers or other uses.
    Port giant International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), for its part, is deploying P200 million worth of cargo handling equipment to reinforce and improve port services in Tacloban City to handle the influx of relief goods.
    Christian Gonzalez, ICTSI head of Asian Region, said the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) tapped the port giant to reinforce and improve port services.
     “ We have been closely working round-the-clock with DOTC and PPA to get this project running at the quickest time possible. We have dispatched our equipment, which should arrive in Tacloban by Tuesday,” he said.
    He pointed out that the port would be fully operational once various cargo handling equipment arrive.
    This includes a brand new mobile harbor crane (MHC) already being commissioned in Davao for possible deployment to Leyte if required. Commissioning is being done in Davao due to the lack of water depth at the Tacloban port to support the heavy lift vessel carrying it.
    As its donation to the typhoon victims, Stinis from Holland added two more back up spreaders to ensure the smooth and continuous operation.
    Gonzalez added that ICTSI would run the Tacloban port free until the close of the government’s relief operations and normal transportation network has been restored, at which time ICTSI will take back all the equipment and pull out its personnel.
    Meanwhile, at the MICT, ICTSI has opened its container freight station (CFS) facilities to the Department of Social Welfare Development (DSWD) for the processing of international relief donations.
    UN agencies said more than 170,000 people had received rice rations or food packets, while the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said they would have mobile surgical units up and running in Tacloban by the weekend.
    “The place really needs to be saturated with relief,” Red Cross Asia-Pacific spokesman Patrick Fuller said in Tacloban. “People literally have nothing. Money is useless here.”
    Since the arrival of the USS George Washington late Thursday, the US military said it had delivered 118 tons of food, water and shelter items to Tacloban and elsewhere, and airlifted nearly 2,900 people to safety.
    Although aid was arriving, relief officials described conditions in the covered sports stadium in Tacloban that served as the main evacuation center as appalling, with an almost total absence of proper sanitation.
    Children and the elderly remain particularly vulnerable, often unable to get to the relief distribution points opening in the city.
    “I have money ... but I cannot eat my money,” Beatrice Bisquera, 91, a retired school supervisor, said in what remained of her home in Tacloban.
    “I need medicine but there is no pharmacy that’s open. I’m hungry but the food we stored is gone,” she said.
    In its last update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council put the official death toll at 3,633, with 1,179 people missing and nearly 12,500 injured.
    The UN has put the number of dead at 4,460 and said yesterday that 2.5 million people still “urgently” required food assistance.
    An estimated 13 million people were affected by the storm, including nearly 1.9 million displaced survivors.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced concern over the welfare of remote communities on 20 smaller islands which posed an “exceedingly complicated” aid challenge.
    “Because of the geography of the Philippines – an archipelago of many islands – and the fact that so many have been hit by the typhoon, it is essentially like mounting at least seven separate, simultaneous relief efforts,” said Julie Hall, the WHO’s representative in the Philippines.
    “This multiplies the logistical challenges associated with the response,” Hall said.
    Frustrated with the slow pace of the initial relief effort, a large number of people with relatives in the impacted areas decided to take matters into their own hands.
    Filling boxes and sacks with everything from packets of rice to cup noodles and candles, they boarded ferries from Cebu island to Ormoc town on Leyte.
    Phillippine Star
    – With Paolo Romero, Mike Frialde, Danny Dangcalan, Marvin Sy, Ria Mae Booc, Lawrence Agcaoili

    November 12, 2013

    US Immediately Dispatches Help From Several Defense Assets to the Phillipines

    Destruction in the Philippines'  Leyte province. (Ryan Lim/Malacanang Photo Bureau via Getty Images)

     The storm that ravaged the Philippines this weekend was off the charts, so powerful that it has been dubbed a "super typhoon." As of Monday, authorities estimated that more than 10,000 had perished, making the typhoon the deadliest natural disaster in that nation's history.
    The United States immediately dispatched relief and troops to aid the Philippines. Though Americans have prided themselves in helping countries in need, its latest effort raises a sensitive but practical question: In a budget-constrained environment, how much importance should be placed on international disaster relief? And should this be a key mission for the Pentagon or be left to civilian agencies?
    Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief sit in a no man's land between diplomacy, charity and military action. When the U.S. responds to natural disasters abroad, it typically taps the resources of the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and non-governmental organizations and branches of the government ranging from NASA to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    Often, however, the most valuable resources are from the military. In the early days of a disaster, there is no substitute for helicopters, cargo planes and multipurpose naval vessels. There is also no substitute for pilots and technical experts trained to operate in exceptionally challenging conditions.
    At a human level, the case for devoting U.S. military resources for disaster relief is compelling. Super Typhoon Haiyan, for example, virtually obliterated the city ofTacloban, leaving survivors scavenging for food and water. The remains of a hospitalhave been reduced to providing only first aid. Supplies that arrive at a nearby airportcould not be transported until the roads were cleared of trees and debris. Elsewhere, aid sent by the Red Cross, the United Nations, private charities and foreign governments might have no way of reaching many of the victims in time to save them. In the wake of Haiyan — as was the case in the wake of disasters such as the Asian tsunami of 2004 — there is no substitute for the capabilities of the U.S. military.
    At the level of national interest, however, does the case for tasking the U.S. military to international natural disasters hold up — particularly in a time when the Pentagon has seen its budget slashed? A cold-eyed evaluation would suggest yes.
    The best battle is the one you don't have to fight. Most of the deployment of U.S. military resources is preventive: The U.S. stations troops throughout the world in the hope of shaping the political environment so as to avoid sending them into combat. The U.S. conducts training exercises with almost every nation it can, in part to decrease the likelihood of conducting actual warfare. Even in a war zone such asAfghanistan, the primary mission of the U.S. military now is training rather than combat.
    In these terms, deploying military resources for disaster relief is a remarkably effective — and inexpensive — investment in the future. One of the largest such deployments in history, the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and other assets following the Asian tsunami of 2004, is estimated to have cost $857 million. That's roughly the price of three days' operations in Afghanistan last year.
    The goodwill the tsunami relief brought the U.S. is incalculable. Nearly a decade later, the effort may rank as one of the most concrete reasons Southeast Asian nations trust the long-term U.S. commitment to a strategy of "Asian rebalancing."
    The Obama administration recognizes the value of disaster relief. As the Pentagon attempts to shift more of its weight to the Asian Pacific region while balancing a shrinking budget, this could turn out to be one of the best decisions it could make.
    Jonah Blank is a senior political scientist at the non-profit, non-partisan RAND Corporation and a former policy director for South and Southeast Asia on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY

    Breaking:  The Pentagon announced Monday it was sending the aircraft carrier USSGeorge Washington and other Navy ships to the Philippines to assist in recovery efforts.
    "The aircraft carrier, which carries 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, is currently in Hong Kong for a port visit," according to a statement from Pentagon press secretary George Little. "The crew is being recalled early from shore leave and the ship is expected to be underway later this evening."
    Other Navy ships will accompany the carrier, which has been ordered to "make best speed" toward the storm ravished region.
    The carrier is expected to arrive within two to three days, Little said.
    The carrier will be able to provide aircraft, including helicopters, to support ground personnel.

    November 10, 2013

    10000 Dead in the Philippines’ Islands

    MASSIVE DESTRUCTION — Once a progressive city of 200,000 people, Tacloban City is reduced mostly to ruins following the devastation wrought by super typhoon “Yolanda.” (Linus Guardian Escandor II)


    Tacloban City — As many as 10,000 people are believed dead in this city alone when one of the worst storms on record sent giant sea waves washing away homes, schools and airport buildings, officials said yesterday.
    Hundreds of bodies have been recovered while thousands remained missing in the wake of the enormous devastation left by super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in the Visayas, authorities said.
    President Benigno  S. Aquino III, who landed in Tacloban yesterday to get a firsthand look at the disaster, said the casualties “will be substantially more” than the official count of 151 — but gave no figure or estimate. He said the government’s priority was to restore power and communications in isolated areas to allow for the delivery of relief and medical assistance to victims.
    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Aquino was “speechless” when he told him of the devastation the typhoon had wrought in Tacloban.
    “I told him all systems are down,” Gazmin said. “There is no power, no water, nothing. People are desperate. They’re looting.”
    Ferocious winds ravaged several central islands, burying people under tons of debris and leaving corpses hanging from trees.
    The typhoon hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippine archipelago Friday and barreled through six eastern and central islands before exiting into the West Philippine Sea, packing ferocious winds of 235 kph and gusts of 275 kph.
    On Leyte Island, regional police chief Elmer Soria said he was told by Gov. Dominic Petilla that there were about 10,000 deaths in the province, mostly by drowning and from collapsed buildings. The figure was based on reports from village officials.
    Tacloban City Administrator Tecson Lim said the death toll in the city alone “could go up to 10,000.”
    Leyte’s capital is the biggest city in the province with a population of 200,000 people.
    About 300-400 bodies have already been recovered but there are “still a lot under the debris,” Lim said. A mass burial was planned Sunday in Palo town near Tacloban.
    Many corpses hung on tree branches, buildings and sidewalks.
    It’s Horrific — Roxas
    Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said a massive rescue operation was underway. “We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Roxas said after visiting Tacloban on Saturday. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living — communications, power, water — all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”
    “The devastation is, I don’t have the words for it,” Roxas said. “It’s really horrific. It’s a great human tragedy.”
    The Philippines has no resources on its own to deal with a disaster of this magnitude, and the US and other governments and agencies were mounting a major relief effort, said Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon.
    US, Europe Assistance
    At the request of the Philippine government, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed US Pacific Command to deploy ships and aircraft to support search-and-rescue operations and airlift emergency supplies, according to a statement released by the Defense Department press office.
    The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said in a message to Aquino that the EC had sent a team to assist the Philippine authorities and that “we stand ready to contribute with urgent relief and assistance if so required in this hour of need.”
    Even by the standards of the Philippines, which is buffeted by many natural calamities — about 20 typhoons a year, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions — the latest disaster shocked the nation of 96 million people.
    Deadliest Natural Catastrophe
    If the typhoon death toll is confirmed, it would be the deadliest natural catastrophe on record in the Philippines. The deadliest typhoon before “Yolanda” was Tropical Storm “Uring” (international name: Thelma) in November 1991, which killed around 5,100 people in the central Philippines. The deadliest disaster so far was the 1976 magnitude-7.9 earthquake that triggered a tsunami in the Moro Gulf in the southern Philippines, killing 5,791 people.
    The airport in Tacloban, about 580 km southeast of Manila, looked like a muddy wasteland of debris, with crumpled tin roofs and upturned cars. The airport tower’s glass windows were shattered, and air force helicopters were busy flying in and out at the start of relief operations. Residential homes that had lined up a 7-kilometer stretch of road leading to Tacloban City were all blown or washed away.
    The winds were so strong that Tacloban residents who sought shelter at a local school tied down the roof of the building but it was still ripped off and the school collapsed, Lim said. It wasn’t clear how many died there.
    The city’s two largest malls and groceries were looted and the gasoline stations destroyed by the typhoon. Police were deployed to guard a fuel depot to prevent looting of fuel.
    “On the way to the airport we saw many bodies along the street,” said Philippine-born Australian Mila Ward, 53, who was waiting at the Tacloban airport to catch a military flight back to Manila.
    “They were covered with just anything — tarpaulin, roofing sheets, cardboards,” she said. Asked how many, she said, “Well over 100 where we passed.”
    One Tacloban resident said he and others took refuge inside a parked Jeep to protect themselves from the storm, but the vehicle was swept away by a surging wall of water.
    “The water was as high as a coconut tree,” said 44-year-old Sandy Torotoro, a bicycle taxi driver who lives near the airport with his wife and 8-year-old daughter. “I got out of the Jeep and I was swept away by the rampaging water with logs, trees and our house, which was ripped off from its mooring.”
    “When we were being swept by the water, many people were floating and raising their hands and yelling for help. But what can we do? We also needed to be helped,” Torotoro said.
    In Torotoro’s village, bodies could be seen lying along the muddy main road, as residents who had lost their homes huddled, holding on to the few things they had managed to save. The road was lined with trees that had fallen to the ground.
    Vice Mayor Jim Pe of Coron town on Busuanga, the last island battered by the typhoon before it blew away to the South China Sea, said most of the houses and buildings there had been destroyed or damaged. Five people drowned in the storm surge and three others were missing, he said by phone.
    “It was like a 747 flying just above my roof,” he said, describing the sound of the winds. He said his family and some of his neighbors whose houses were destroyed took shelter in his basement.
    Aquino Loses Temper
    In Tacloban City, President Aquino reportedly blew his top and momentarily walked out of a briefing with disaster relief officials amid growing frustration with the government response to mitigate the tragedy.
    National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Eduardo del Rosario reportedly told the President that 95 percent of Tacloban City was devastated by the storm but Aquino questioned the basis of such assessment.
    Aquino was reportedly irritated when Del Rosario supposedly claimed the Tacloban jail with damaged roof was just considered a “minor devastation.” The President pushed for a better government system to verify data on death and destruction left by the storm.
    Radio reports also disclosed that the Chief Executive was annoyed by a proposal made by a local businessman to declare martial law or a state of emergency to restore peace and order in Tacloban.
    Fatalities Elsewhere
    While all attention is on the devastation in Tacloban City and the rest of Leyte, the fatalities in other parts of Visayas are also beginning to pile up as authorities begin reaching the other worst-hit areas.
    In Samar, a total of 300 people were confirmed dead in the town of Basey alone. Engr. Leo Dacaynos, of the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council of Samar, said Basey and nearby towns are among the hardest hit in the province, adding that most of the fatalities are residents of coastal areas who drowned.
    “The seawater rose to up to 20 meters because of storm surge, most of the fatalities drowned,” said Dacaynos in an interview over radio station dzBB.
    In Central Visayas, a total of 40 people were reported dead in Cebu alone while three others are missing, two in Cebu and one in Bohol.
    In Western Visayas, at least 67 people were reported to have died in four provinces of the region while move than 32 others are in the missing list.
    In Iloilo, at least 46 people were killed according to Gov. Arthur Defensor, describing the situation in his province as “very bad.”
    Capiz followed next with 17 dead. Aklan, on the other hand, has one dead while Antique has five.
    In Coron, Palawan, six fatalities have been accounted, but Mayor Clara Reyes said she the number may still increase as several villages have not been reached disaster response teams.
    Reyes described the wrath of the storm that hit Coron as “kasing lakas sa Tacloban.”
    She said they badly need the assistance from the national government, noting that of the 24 villages in Coron, there are nine that remain isolated.
    Pope’s Call For Prayers
    Pope Francis on Saturday has called for prayers for the victims of Typhoon “Yolanda” especially in the Philippines. “I ask all of you to join me in prayer for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda especially those in the beloved islands of the Philippines,” said the Pontiff in his Twitter account @Pontifex.
    Caritas Manila Appeal
    Caritas Manila is appealing for donations to help the victims of “Yolanda” in the Visayas. “Let us share what we can to help Yolanda relief give to Caritas Manila Damayan,” Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, said.
    Donations in cash may be deposited at Caritas Manila Inc. Peso Bank Accounts BPI #3063-5357-01, BDO #5600-45905, Unionbank #00-030-001227-5, PNB 10-856-660001-7, Metrobnk 175-3-17506954-3.
    Caritas Manila said in cash donations are used to buy contents for the family emergency relief pack, materials and medicines for first aid kits.
    The social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila also appealed for in-kind donations such as canned goods, potable water, rice, medicines, clothes, undergarments, beddings, linens, personal care and hygiene products, cleaning materials among others.
    Donations may be brought to Caritas Manila office at 2002 Jesus St. Pandacan, Manila; Radyo Veritas in West Avenue-Edsa Quezon City or the nearest parish.
    Evacuation Centers
    Cruz said there are some 114,312 families either staying inside the evacuation centers or with their relatives in the entire region.
    Iloilo has the most number of affected with 76,225 families followed by Negros Occidental with almost 13,000 and closely followed by Capiz with 11,656 families.
    Some 2,990 families are inside evacuation centers in Aklan while while 1,286 in Antique.
    No Power, Water
    The entire provinces of Aklan, Antique and Capiz remain without power with the Capiz and Antique also suffering interrupted water supply.
    In Negros Occidental, 85 percent of the power supply has already been restored while the power supply from the ILECO 1 has been fully restored.
    The power supply in the areas being serviced by ILECO 2 and 3 were restored by 70 to 75 percent.
    Canada Assistance
    Canada announced that it will provide up to P205.9-million (Cad$5 million) in support to humanitarian organizations striving to meet the needs of the people affected by typhoon Yolanda.
    According to the Canadian Embassy in Manila, emergency relief activities will include the provision of emergency shelter, food, water, livelihood support, and other essential services.
    “Canada is deeply concerned by the impact of this catastrophic typhoon,” said Canadian Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie Christian Paradis said in a statement. “
    British Condolences
    Simultaneously, British Minister of State for the Foreign Office Hugo Swire offered his condolences to the Philippines following the devastation caused by the strongest typhoon ever to hit the country this year.
    A Department for International Development (DFID) team has already arrived in the Philippines to assess, in consultation with the UN and the Philippine government, what assistance the UK can offer as a matter of urgency.
    *In addition to the £4 million (P276 million pesos) for the earlier emergency responses, the British government on Sunday announced a further package of up to £6 million (P414 million) for the humanitarian response to Typhoon Yolanda. *
    State of Calamity Call
    Lawmakers crossed party lines in calling on President Aquino to declare the country under a state of calamity after super typhoon “Yolanda” wrought havoc in Central Philippines.
    The House independent bloc, led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and administrations solons are expected to file today a resolution putting the Philippines under a state of calamity to ensure that the much needed assistance will be extended to the typhoon-stricken provinces, particularly in Tacloban City.
    “The needed assistance should be extended immediately to the areas affected by the monster typhoon especially in the hardest hit places. Let us pray for the Filipinos,” said Romualdez, whose province was battered by “Yolanda.”
    2-M Families Affected
    The number of families affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” has reached two million or 9.53 million individuals in eight regions by mid-Sunday, based on the latest count by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
    The number of displaced families went up to 96,039 families or 449,416 individuals staying in evacuation centers, while 36,627 families or 182,378 persons temporarily sought shelter in their relatives’ houses in Regions 4A, 4B, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 13.
    DSWD has initially extended P10.6 million worth of relief assistance to Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Caraga Region.
    AFP Appeal
    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) appealed to those affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” to cooperate with authorities particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as the government works to restore order amidst ongoing rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations.
    On its part, the AFP deployed additional 100 soldiers to help police and existing military forces in their efforts to restore peace and order in the typhoon-struck Tacloban City following the devastation left by the storm.
    By: The Associated Press, Elena L. Aben, Aaron B. Recuenco, and Roy C. Mabasa

    Hundreds Believed Dead in the Philippines

    Aaron Favila/Associated Press
      The powerful typhoon that swept across the Philippines on Friday cut a path of destruction through several central islands, leaving the seaside city of Tacloban in ruins and leading to early, unconfirmed estimates of at least 1,200 dead.
    Although the government said it could confirm only about 140 deaths so far, the Red Cross in Manila said its people on the ground were reporting an estimated 1,000 deaths on Leyte Island, where Tacloban is, and about 200 from the neighboring island of Samar.
    “The local Red Cross chapter has seen many bodies,” Gwendolyn Pang, the secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said in a text message. “An actual body count has to be done to determine the exact number.”
    By some accounts, Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda in the Philippines, was one of the strongest storms on record when it hit land, with some meteorologists reporting sustained winds in excess of 190 miles per hour.
    Photos and television footage showed fierce winds ripping tin roofs off homes and sending ocean water crashing into buildings, some of which crumpled. Footage from Tacloban shows water rushing through the streets of the city, which has an estimated population of 220,000.
    Reuters quoted a spokesman for the national disaster agency as saying almost all the houses there were either badly damaged or destroyed, and reported that the manager of the airport, on a strip of land that juts into the ocean, had estimated that water there rose up to 13 feet.
    The Associated Press quoted a bicycle taxi driver who lives near the airport as saying that he and his family took refuge in a parked jeep, which was swept away in the roiling waters. The man, Sandy Torotoro, said that as the vehicle floated by, many people screamed for help as they were swept away, waving their hands above the water.
    “But what can we do?” he said. “We also needed to be helped.”
    Officials have reported seeing bodies strewn along the roadside and survivors desperately searching for food and water.
    The Social Welfare and Development Department reported that the storm affected 4.28 million people in about 270 towns and cities spread across 36 provinces in the central Philippines.
    President Benigno S. Aquino III said at a news briefing on Saturday evening in Manila that he would visit the hardest-hit areas on Sunday, and that he expected there to be “substantially more” deaths than the 140 the government has confirmed so far. “We are not prepared to say how much more at this point in time, because that is also being collated,” he said.
    Mr. Aquino added that the restoration of communications was a priority so that rescue efforts can be coordinated. The government has been flying in military cargo planes carrying food, clothing and shelters, but roads blocked by debris have made distribution difficult.
    A United Nations disaster assessment team visited the area on Saturday.
    “The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, the head of the team, said in a statement, referring to the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Indonesia and other countries. “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed, and the streets are strewn with debris.”
    “The roads between the airport and the town are completely blocked,” he said, “and relief operations will be extremely difficult.”

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