BY ANGELJEAN CHIARAMIDA
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Serving in areas across the globe, the Salvation Army is often among the first on the scene helping victims in foreign nations immediately after disasters — like when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last week.
“Since we’re already established in 126 countries all over the world, the Salvation Army already has boots on the ground, so to speak,” said Lt. Jeffrey Brunelle, commanding officer at the Newburyport chapter of the Salvation Army. “So when something like this happens, we can respond immediately, because we’re already there.”
According to a press release that Brunelle recently received from the international office in London, Salvation Army teams in the Philippines are moving to assist thousands of people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
More than 2,000 people are reported to have lost their lives in the disaster, with hundreds of thousands left without homes, power or clean water. Many devastated areas are impossible to reach by road, and many communities have no means of making contact with the rest of the country, meaning it’s difficult to build a clear picture of exactly where the need is greatest.
The worst-affected area seems to be around Tacloban, the capital of the island province of Leyte, and about 360 miles southeast of the Filipino capital Manila, according to the International Office of the Salvation Army, while the islands of Iloilo, Palawan and Mindoro were also affected.
Since the storm hit, a team from the Salvation Army’s territorial headquarters was making arrangements with the Philippine Air Force to transport food parcels, water and medical supplies to Tacloban, as well as a Salvationist doctor as part of its initial response team, according to the press release.
“We have placed an order for $100,000 (worth) of food supplies to assist the people of Tacloban,” Salvation Army territorial commander Col. Wayne Maxwell wrote. “The reality for us here is that the need is great and we want to provide a significant response. The Island of Leyte has four Salvation Army churches and there are other islands that have experienced major levels of devastation. The task for us is immense and our cash extremely limited!”
The most urgent need is for food, water and other essentials, and monetary donations are the most critical need for survivors.
The Salvation Army has set up a designated fund where 100 percent of gifts go to Haiyan relief efforts. To give, visit www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). Donations of $10 can also be made via mobile phone by texting “TYPHOON” to 80888 and replying “YES.”
Brunelle said that local offices of the Salvation Army are also prepared to accept monetary donation from local residents who want to help.
“We forward those contributions along right away,” Brunelle said. “We don’t hold anything here.”
Contributions can be dropped off at the Newburyport office of the Salvation Army at 40 Water St. Those writing checks, should again designate Typhoon Haiya on the memo line.
The International Red Cross and the regional chapter of the Red Cross for Northeast Massachusetts are also working to raise money for the victims of this devastating natural disaster, as are other internationally known disaster relief organizations.
The Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts can be reached via the Internet at http://www.redcross.org/ma/peabody, where contributions can be made online. Or call the office at 978-922-2224 or visit them at 85 Lowell St. in Peabody.