How to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan + some social media tools

The media has been providing some amazing yet heartbreaking coverage of Super Typhoon Haiyan over the past week, but we wanted to bullet some of the latest updates and statistics and include some suggestions on how to help the survivors.

typhoon Haiyan YolandaPH Photo by Bullit Marquez/AP

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 has shocked the impoverished nation of 96 million people writes CTVNews.

  • The Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development reports the number of families affected by the typhoon (called ‘Yolanda’ by locals) has reached the two million mark (or about 9.5 million people) as officials continue to assess the extent of the disaster.
  • The official death toll from the disaster rose to 1,774 on Tuesday, though authorities have said they expect that to rise markedly. They fear estimates of 10,000 dead are accurate and might be low.
  • reports aid is coming: medical supplies, pallets of water and food piled on trucks, planes and ferries, sent by the Philippine government and countries around the world. But the scale of the disaster and challenges of delivering the assistance means few in this city, strewn with debris and rotting, smelly corpses, have received any help.
  • In Cebu, the Philippine air force has been sending three C-130s back and forth to Tacloban from dawn to dusk, and had delivered 400,000 pounds of relief supplies by Tuesday [12-Nov], however a lack of electricity in Tacloban means planes can’t land there at night.
  • People are so desperate for food and water there are widespread reports of crowds breaking into warehouses and stores.
  • Medical supplies are also scarce. According to CNN the few hospitals left standing have had to turn people away because they are overwhelmed with the injured. Many people desperate for medical attention have made their way to the airport, where the military is trying to administer medical care.
  • The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and several other U.S. Navy ships are headed toward the region with massive amounts of water and food, but the Pentagon said they may not arrive until Thursday.

How to help the survivors

yolandaPH disaster reliefThere are many reputable groups asking for help with disaster relief efforts, but realize there will be scammers out there preying on the generosity of people during a crisis so make sure you verify the organization you are donating to has a good record. GuideStar gathers and disseminates data about about every IRS-registered nonprofit organization’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and more for the public to search and view online.

Below are a few major nonprofits that have teams and relationships in the Philippines and other countries impacted by this monster storm in case you would like to donate to their cause. (Unless an organization requests specific items, the best way to help is to make a monetary donation.)

  • The Philippine Red Cross is accepting donations and coordinating disaster relief on the ground throughout much of the central Philippines. The organization is posting updates on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The Salvation Army disaster services are funded entirely by donors, and Salvation Army uses 100% of all disaster donations in support of disaster relief operations. With 35 years’ experience working around the globe, The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) works to find long term solutions to poverty in less developed countries where The Salvation Army is active.
  • Catholic Relief Services has dispatched a team to the area affected by the storm, but said travel to the most hard-hit cities and towns was “extremely slow” because of damaged infrastructure and debris-clogged roads. It is accepting donations online.
  • The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) explains on its website that it has emergency teams in Cebu (the Philippine city with the nearest fully operational airport to the disaster area) and expects “to have a medical team on the ground [by 12-Nov], in Tacloban, a town devastated when the typhoon first struck the coast.”
  • The U.S. State Department announced a partnership with The mGive Foundation Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund, organized by the mGive Foundation, an American 501c3 public charity that collects donations for victims of the typhoon via mobile phone. Wireless subscribers can text AID to 80108 to give a $10 donation, which will appear on the donor’s wireless bill or be deducted from their prepaid balance.
  • Find more reputable, established organizations that make the most of monetary or material donations on the InterAction website

Social media tools

  • Finding a Loved One = If you are looking for information about a specific person in an area affected by the typhoon, Google has set up a person finder page, which can also be accessed by mobile device or text message. If you have information about a specific person affected by the typhoon, you can also use the person finder page to share it.
  • Some users on Twitter are using #RescuePH hashtag to get the word out about missing people and relief efforts. Or follow #YolandaPH for news, updates and conversations about Typhoon Yolanda.
  • The Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development is providing updates on relief efforts and coordinating thousands of local volunteers at their DSWD field offices to assemble and package Family Food Packs for distribution by various relief groups. Learn more at or follow them on Twitter @dswdserves

Our thoughts and prayers are with the survivors, responders, volunteers and family members of all those affected by this storm. j & B

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