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November 14, 2013

'The task is immense'; Salvation Army assists victims of typhoon

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!”

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