CHAPEL HILL – As the death toll from typhoon Haiyan nears 4000, efforts here in the Triangle are on-going to assist the victims recovering in the Philippines. Lu Esposito of the American Red Cross says that the aid extends beyond fundraising and donations.
“Through the Red Cross, we can try to find that family member and connect the two so that they know that their family member is safe, or they know what has happened to their family in the Philippines,” Esposito says.
Esposito, the Regional Communications Officer for the Red Cross Triangle Area Chapter, says her office is currently working with four families to locate relatives in the Philippines. One case was closed because the family was able to make contact.
The family linking system works on a global basis, pooling together all of the Red Cross’ communication systems. In events like the typhoon, phone lines and internet often aren’t functioning, and families cannot reach each other.
“We actually have four specialists there now that are working with telecommunications from the United State as well as other countries who have sent telecommunications specialists in,” Esposito says.
On November 8, the typhoon decimated entire communities, leaving nearly 2 million people displaced, close to 12,500 injured and thousands missing, as reported by CNN.
Red Cross workers arrived shortly after the typhoon, one of the most powerful ever recorded, slammed into the Philippines.
“They are out on the ground looking for those people one-by-one. It is very much as grassroots effort on the ground in the Philippines to find those people,” Esposito says. She adds, “Our global network can come together with so many societies from so many different countries. The Philippines Red Cross is leading the response efforts and it is the largest global are the largest global humanitarian organization in the Philippines.”
The Triangle Red Cross is helping to collect donations and working with those who want to hold charity benefits. Esposito estimates that more than $60,000 has donated to the local chapter so far.
On a national level, the Red Cross has contributed an initial $6 million to fund response efforts.
To make a donation, you can call 1-800-RedCross, or can visit RedCross.org.
If you are unable to contact a relative in the Philippines, you can call the Red Cross at 919.231.1602 to initiate a family tracing case.