Beach-based Operation Blessing helping survivors of Philippine typhoon

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Associated Press and 13News Now

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 4:09 PM

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) -- Philippine officials say Friday's typhoon in the central part of the country may have killed 10,000 or more, but the official death toll is still less than 950.

In many areas bodies lie uncounted in the streets, as survivors search for food, water and medicine.  

Officers at a small naval base say there are no body bags to move eight corpses submerged there in sea water.  

The U.S. military has begun bringing in supplies and troops. A U.S. Marine general says he saw bodies everywhere when his helicopter flew over the region.  Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy says every building and house he saw was destroyed or severely damaged, and he says, "I don't know how else you can describe total devastation."    

Help is also coming from Virginia Beach-based Operation Blessing. The group said Monday that more than three dozen staff members are already in Tacloban City and across the province of Leyte, the provinces of Ilo-ilo, Aklan and Eastern Samar.

Spokesman Chris Roslan says the roads are badly damaged, so teams will work to clear them so relief goods and personnel can get through to the hardest hit areas. OB also now has medical personnel on the ground and will begin medical missions shortly. it's ready to ship hi-tech water purification devices to the Philippines.

Also Monday, the group was preparing to send several hi-tech water purification devices from its Chesapeake warehouse to the Philippines.

Officials say one - a SAN6 chlorine generator - can produce enough food-grade chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect over 300,000 gallons of water each day. The second device - a portable chlorine generator - can provide enough food-grade chlorine to disinfect 60,000 gallons of water a day.

A 19-year-old student in the hardest-hit city, Tacloban, says he tried to ride out the storm in his home with his ailing father, but the storm surge carried the building away. Marvin Daga says they clung to each other while the house floated, but it eventually crumbled and they fell into the churning waters. He says his father slipped out of his grasp and sank -- and that he's not expecting to find him alive. 

Larry Womack and his wife Bobbie, American missionaries from Tennessee, have lived in Tacloban for a long time. Womack says he chose to stay at their beachside home, only to find the storm surge engulfing it. He survived by climbing onto a beam in the roof that stayed attached to a wall. Womack says, "There were actual waves going over my head."

Even people who fled to evacuation shelters found that they weren't safe. A 21-year-old woman who was about to give birth was in an evacuation center that was devastated by the storm surge. She had to swim and cling to a post to survive -- eventually reaching safety at the airport, where she gave birth to a baby girl. The baby, Bea Joy Sagales, appeared to be in good health. Her arrival drew applause from others in the airport, and military medics who helped in the delivery.

 

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