Loading
Congressman highlights ongoing Philippines recovery efforts
By Kevin Jones and Adelaide Mena
Rep. Smith joins a clean water distribution line operated by Catholic Relief Services and USAID to talk with victims of the typhoon. Credit: Jim Stipe/Catholic Relief Services.
Rep. Smith joins a clean water distribution line operated by Catholic Relief Services and USAID to talk with victims of the typhoon. Credit: Jim Stipe/Catholic Relief Services.

.- Despite facing a long path to recovery after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, the people of the Philippines have not given up hope, says a U.S. Congressman who recently visited the country.

“I met with numerous survivors who told us heartbreaking stories yet radiated a calm and inner peace,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s global health panel.

“One man told us how his father drowned only a few feet from where we stood and how he had stoically carried many waterlogged dead bodies to a mass grave. He said he nearly collapsed emotionally, however, when he carried the lifeless body of a three year-old girl,” the congressman continued.

“He said he just broke down, overwhelmed, and felt he could continue no more. Yet amazingly, a few hours later, there he was—determined to rebuild and overcome and full of faith in God.”

Rep. Smith and Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Al Green (D-Texas) toured the Philippines from Nov. 22-26 as a delegation from Congress.

They discussed the ongoing response to the typhoon and the current state of its victims at a Dec. 3 hearing at the U.S. Capitol.

The massive storm, locally known as Typhoon Yolanda, made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8 with wind speeds of 195 miles per hour, the strongest storm yet recorded. The typhoon killed over 5,000, while 1,600 are still missing and millions have been displaced from their homes.

Rep. Smith cited the encouraging words of Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, who said “the typhoon was the strongest in the word … but our faith in the Lord is even stronger … no calamity or natural devastation can quench the fire of our hope.”

“The Filipino soul is stronger than Yolanda,” the archbishop said.

Sean Callahan, CEO of Catholic Relief Services, told the congressional hearing that the most urgent needs for storm victims include shelter, water, hygiene, sanitation and food.

He said the massive amount of debris keeps storm victims from returning to their homes and will pose public health threats if not addressed soon.

The relief agency is also continuing its response to help victims of the October 2013 earthquake in the Bohol province of the country.

Rep. Smith commended the relief agency’s work in an interview with CNA.

“Right from the start, Catholic Relief Services was there and doing an extraordinary job of getting plastic sheeting, clean water capability, and other kinds of basics without which people would have been sicker if not dead,” he said.

Smith said the Catholic relief centers are providing “a whole lot of good things to help the people.”

He also praised the U.S. military’s “unbelievable job” in providing an emergency response. The work of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy prevented “a far higher death toll,” he said.

Storm victims’ displacement from their homes is one of the key issues facing the Philippines, the congressman said.

“Four million people are displaced. It’s unprecedented,” he said.

Rep. Smith said the emergency response is now shifting to a recovery phase. Disease epidemics are a major threat and need to be “aggressively fought.”

One risk is Dengue fever infection, which is “very painful.” The disease is mosquito-borne and the stagnant water remaining from the typhoon provides a large breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“There’s much more that has to be done to kill these insects,” the congressman stated.

Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection transmitted through water contaminated with infected animal urine, is also a threat, as is rabies carried by stray dogs.

Furthermore, Rep. Smith said that the 19,000 Filipinos airlifted to Manila are vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers. Pregnant woman are also especially vulnerable during the storm recovery due to a lack of clean facilities, clean blood and accessible roads to hospitals.

Tags: Natural disasters, Philipplines, Typhoon Haiyan


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Aug
23

Liturgical Calendar

August 23, 2014

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 23:1-12

Gospel
Date
08/23/14
08/22/14
08/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Ezek 43: 1-7AB
First Reading:: Mt 23: 1-12

Saint of the Day

St. Rose of Lima »

Saint
Date
08/23/14
08/19/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 23:1-12

Homily
Date
08/23/14
08/22/14
08/19/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: