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Asia Recovers from Month-Long Series of Disasters
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By Emily Fraker, International Communications, American Red Cross
December 7, 2009

This fall, a rapid succession of typhoons struck the Philippines leading to widespread flooding and landslides. Western Sumatra, Indonesia shook following back-to-back earthquakes. A tsunami later swept through Samoa, Tonga and American Samoa. And Southern India experienced the worst flooding in more than a century.

Students walk out from a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Padang, Indonesia on Sept. 30.
Students walk out from a collapsed building after an earthquake hit Padang, Indonesia on Sept. 30.
Photo Credit: Muhammad Fitrah/Reuters

As these disasters ricocheted around the Indian Ocean, so did Red Cross volunteer Cristina Hammond. A week before landing in Indonesia, Hammond was finding accommodations for a local family near Burlington, Vermont, whose house was blocked by a tree following a wind storm.  Then the first earthquake struck.

After completing her initial assignment in Indonesia , Hammond traveled to the Philippines, where she is now helping coordinate Red Cross relief for 6.3 million people who have been affected by typhoons Ketsana and Parma.

“The needs are the same everywhere” said Hammond. Bouncing from disaster to disaster is easier “if I stop and think about (the Red Cross) principles. Those principles (which include humanity and impartiality) apply to the one family I worked with in Vermont and the thousands of families I worked with in Java.”

Update from the Field – Four Disasters, Four Countries

In response to the typhoons in the Philippines, the American Red Cross has:

  • deployed two disaster specialists, including Hammond
  • sent relief supplies, including jerry cans for fresh water, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and other supplies valued at $618,000
  • mobilized $1,050,000 in financial assistance

During the next few months, the Red Cross expects to provide 500 transitional shelters to survivors and assist an additional 3,000 families with partially-damaged houses.

In Vietnam, which was also impacted by heavy rains from Typhoon Ketsana, the global Red Cross network collectively expects to help 270,000 survivors by procuring rice, distributing relief items, and re-establishing water and sanitation services. In support, the American Red Cross provided $950,000 for local livelihoods and relief support, and deployed one responder to assist immediately after the storms.

In response to massive earthquakes in Indonesia, the American Red Cross has:

  • mobilized its Indonesian-based staff from the Tsunami Recovery Program to assist with relief efforts
  • provided more than $900,000 in relief support similar to that provided in the Philippines.

To date, the Red Cross has also helped provided enough clean drinking water to fill the equivalent of nearly three, Olympic-sized swimming pools. Other post-disaster health measures have been benefitted nearly 3,000 villages, including:

  • dengue fever prevention
  • water and sanitation education
  • hygiene sensitization activities

In response to the September 29 earthquake which caused a tsunami that took the lives of 143 people, the global Red Cross network is also supporting 5,000 of Samoa’s most vulnerable people.  Relief and recovery programs have been established to provide shelter, psychosocial support, relief items as well as improve post-disaster water, sanitation and hygiene activities. Contributing to this effort, the American Red Cross provided $100,000.

In India, the Red Cross is also helping families cope with flash floods, providing temporary shelter, providing clean drinking water and safeguarding the community from health hazards, such as malaria. Working in support of these local efforts, the American Red Cross contributed $180,000 worth of supplies to help, for example, replace crucial kitchen items that may have washed away.

For more information about these recent disaster responses and other programs in this region, visit www.redcross.org/international.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

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