Santa Monica doing part in natural disaster relief

Nearly three weeks after a deadly typhoon struck the Philippine islands, an outpour of grief and aid is still felt in Santa Monica and around the world. According to the United Nations, the death toll from Typhoon Haiyan continues to paint an even grimmer picture than was previously perceived. The government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has updated its predicted death-toll number of Haiyan from 5,560 to 5,598 lives lost.

This number does not take into account the possibility of more bodies turning up from the estimated 1,759 missing people who were victims of the typhoon.

The NDRRMC also reports that an estimated 3.81 million people have been evacuated from the disaster zone. About 220,000 of these victims are currently finding refuge in government-run evacuation centers, which are limited in their resources to help.

According to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, more than 226 million people are affected by natural disasters every year. In fact, between 2002 and 2011, there were 4,130 recorded disasters from natural hazards around the world, in which more than a million people perished.

In East Asia and the Pacific, the risks of dying from floods and cyclones has decreased by two-thirds since 1980, according to the UNESCO.

When disasters strike, the Santa Monica community has been known to reach out and do its part to help victims of natural catastrophes.

In February this year, the Santa Monica City Council issued a report approving the donation of two sedans, a truck, a van, and a sports utility vehicle to the Terry Farrell Firefighters Fund, a nonprofit organization that strived to help fire departments devastated by Hurricane Sandy, a brutal storm that severely damaged many parts of the northeastern United States in October of last year.

Following the news of this disaster in the Philippines, the Santa Monica College Filipino community took no hesitations to help the people who have lost their homes, have no shelter, and are in need of food and supplies.

SMC’s Filipino community extended their hand of aid through the colleges Kapisanang Pilipino club. The club has attempted to gather resources and has also allowed SMC community members to come by the club’s meetings and donate whatever they can.

On Sunday, Nov. 24, the PUMA Run/Walk for Philippine Relief was held at the Santa Monica Beach, according to the event’s official Facebook page. Participants in the run could donate $10 or more, and 100 percent of the earnings would go directly to relief programs in the Philippines.

While relief efforts continue to pour in for the Philippines, there is still a long way to go. On top of all the devastation, the United Nations has estimated that the cost of damage to infrastructure and agriculture to the region is at about $637 million, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

For anyone at SMC looking for ways to donate, there are many organizations that are taking help easily via their websites. These include organizations such as The United Nations Children’s Fund, CARE, the American Red Cross and Philippine Red Cross, among many others.

Fabian AvellanedaComment