Aircraft carrier heads to Philippines as Typhoon Haiyan survivors make plea for aid

November 11, 2013

PHOTOS: Typhoon Haiyan slams Philippines
TYPHOON RELIEF: Donate to Red Cross
TYPHOON RELIEF: Donate to Salvation Army
TYPHOON RELIEF: Donate to Philippine Consulate General, Chicago

All night on Monday, people have been dropping off donated items at the Rizal Community Center in Lakeview. Organizers have arranged for an air lift of supplies, and they're not the only ones here in the Chicago area taking action.

At Allegretti's Pizzeria in Des Plaines, there is a plea Monday night for help for a country left reeling.

"It's just heart-breaking for us, but we're doing what we can to help out," said Monique Bunie, Fellowship for Filipino Migrants.

The restaurant hosted a fundraiser for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Noreen Schertler and her daughter are among those donating money.

"You can't believe how devastating it is. There are people without food, without water, without any housing," said Noreen Schertler, Des Plaines resident.

The images are haunting to Reuben Chua of Chicago, who has yet to hear from relatives, including his 13-year-old daughter. The family's home in the Philippines is flattened.

"When I close my eyes I always see my father, my mother, my daughter holding onto a post, trying not to be blown by the wind. You see the house. There's nothing left," said Reuben Chua.

Chua is now among a group of volunteers who've arranged for an airlift of supplies, items now being collected at the Rizal Center in Lakeview.

"We're looking for canned goods that doesn't require water. We're looking for batteries and flashlights, clothing, and blankets," said Ray Borja, donation drive organizer.

"They need shoes. They definitely need shoes. There's a lot of people that don't have shoes or slippers or anything on their feet," said Ron Vergara, donation drive organizer.

With the death toll climbing, organizers here have been asking medical facilities for donations of body bags, an example of the stark reality on the ground. The Rizal Center will be open all day Tuesday, collecting items from 10am to midnight with the shipment going out on Wednesday.

Aircraft carrier speeds towards Philippines

A United States aircraft carrier was steaming toward the typhoon-ravaged eastern Philippines on Tuesday to add muscle to relief efforts that have yet to fully begin four days after the disaster.

The USS George Washington was expected to arrive off the coast in about two days, according to the Pentagon. A similar sized US ship, and its fleet of helicopters capable of dropping tons of water daily and evacuating wounded, was credited with saving scores of lives after the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Authorities estimate the typhoon killed 10,000 or more people when it made landfall Friday.

In the worst-hit areas, bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and desperate survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine as rescue workers took on a daunting task in the typhoon-battered islands of the Philippines.

The hard-hit city of Tacloban resembled a garbage dump from the air, with only a few concrete buildings left standing in the wake of one of the most powerful storms to ever hit land, packing 147-mph winds and whipping up 20-foot walls of seawater that tossed ships inland and swept many out to sea.

"Help. SOS. We need food," read a message painted by a survivor in large letters on the ravaged city's port, where water lapped at the edge.

There was no one to carry away the dead, which lay rotting along the main road from the airport to Tacloban, the worst-hit city along the country's remote eastern seaboard.

At a small naval base, eight swollen corpses - including that of a baby - were submerged in water brought in by the storm. Officers had yet to move them, saying they had no body bags or electricity to preserve them.

Authorities estimated the typhoon killed 10,000 or more people, but with the slow pace of recovery, the official death toll three days after the storm made landfall remained at 942.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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