In the next 24 hours, the U.S. military expects there to be a significant increase in relief flights to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.
Authorities said at least 2 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon, which is called Yolanda in the Philippines but is known as Haiyan elsewhere in Asia. It's one of the most powerful recorded typhoons to ever hit land and likely the deadliest natural disaster to beset this poor Southeast Asian nation.
The Philippine military confirmed 942 dead, but shattered communications, transportation links and local governments suggest the final toll is days away.
Troops with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade brought Meals Read to Eat (MREs) and pallets of other supplies to Villamor Air Base on Sunday. The airport is approximately seven hours south of the area’s hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
On Monday, the Marines loaded up a C-130 with those supplies as well as generators, a forklift and two trucks and flew to Tacloban, a city badly hit by the storm and in desperate need of assistance.
There are more than 200 U.S. military personnel on the ground in the Philippines. Most are from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade out of Okinawa, Japan.
Those troops are still working to assess the situation to determine the best response by American military personnel and resources.
The State Department is also organizing military veterans to help the survivors, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday.
Barry LaForgia with San Diego-based International Relief Teams is an expert in handling crises of this magnitude. He said the U.S. military and Red Cross are still assessing the magnitude of the loss four days after the typhoon hit.
LaForgia said for the next 7 days, the priority will be about keeping people alive. He estimated the entire process of recovery will take years.
San Diego State University alum David Overton, has lived in the Philippines for 10 years and operates a birthing clinic with his wife.
He said his clinic organized relief supplies and transported them along with one nurse via the Philippine navy however he discouraged relatives in the U.S. from sending care packages.
“Sending goods from the U.S. to here will take a lot of time and will clog up the ports,” he suggested. “Financial donations and assistance is the best. Go with an organization that is on the ground and doing something here.”
Poway-based Gawad Kalinga USA is coordinating an effort to bring food packs to 200,000 families in affected provinces. The company said Sea Food City will help with fundraising by taking donations at their stores. The grocery chain has locations in Mira Mesa, Chula Vista and National City.
The U.S. embassy in the Philippines is taking requests about U.S. citizens thought to be in the areas affected by the storm.
Contact the Typhoon Haiyan Response Call Center, a 24-hour call center, at 888-407-4747 from inside the U.S. and 202-501-4444 from outside the U.S.