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Super Typhoon Haiyan

Super Typhoon Haiyan — perhaps the strongest storm ever — plowed across the central Philippines, leaving widespread devastation in its wake.

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KTLA’s three-hour Sunday evening telethon raised more than $150,000 to benefit Red Cross relief efforts in the typhoon-devastated Philippines.

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KTLA’s fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, raised funds for typhoon victims.

The event was the brainchild of KTLA anchor Cher Calvin, who is of Filipino descent. She hosted the show, “Season of Sharing: Help for the Philippines.” 

The station partnered with the local chapter of the Red Cross to gather funds for those suffering from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan — one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall.

Dubbed “Yolanda” in the region, the storm reached the Philippines early Nov. 8. Millions have been displaced and the reported death toll has risen above 3,600.

Paul Schultz, chief executive officer of the local chapter, thanked donors, who called into a dedicated phone bank or contributed online.

“Your viewers were absolutely tremendous,” Schulz told KTLA’s Gayle Anderson Monday morning. “All of the money raised through KTLA will go to the disaster victims in the Philippines, and work particularly with the Philippine Red Cross, who is already on the ground delivering relief supplies.”

During the Sunday evening broadcast, Calvin was joined by Red Cross ambassador Billy Ray Cyrus, as well as Paul Rodriguez, Arsenio Hall and many others.

The event had brought in $152,148 as of Monday morning, according to the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.

You can still donate by visiting ktla.com/help.

Singer and Red Cross ambassador Billy Ray Cyrus performs a song during KTLA’s “Help For The Philippines” telethon.

To make a donation, please visit ktla.com/help.

Boxer and Philippine Congressman Manny Pacquiao makes a personal appeal to help the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

To make a donation, please visit ktla.com/help.

Following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan — one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall — KTLA 5 News and the Red Cross have partnered for a telethon Sunday to help raise money for victims in the Philippines.
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Join us on Sunday, Nov. 17. (Credit: KTLA)

The storm first reached land about 4:40 a.m. on Nov. 8 on its way westward through the island nation, according to the Philippine government.

By the time the storm — dubbed “Yolanda” in the region — had weakened, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were displaced, and the reported death toll topped 2,300.

Hundreds are still reported missing, and more than a million families have been affected, according to the government.

Now as the rebuilding begins, KTLA needs your help.

On Sunday, Nov. 17 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., we’ll be live on air with our special Season of Sharing telethon: “Help for the Philippines.”

The special, hosted by Cher Calvin, will air live on Channel 5 and KTLA.com.

Please join us.

Here’s how you can donate: Call 323-606-7201, or visit www.ktla.com/help.

A disaster-relief group comprised of military veterans and medical professionals was preparing Saturday to send more volunteers to the Philippines, where recovery efforts continued in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

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A Team Rubicon volunteer prepared to leave for the Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (Credit: KTLA)

Several members of Team Rubicon were already in the Southeast Asian country, having departed from Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday and throughout the week, said Sam Kille, a spokesman for the group.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we were one of the first nonprofits to hit the ground running on Veterans Day after the typhoon took place,” he said, adding that the El Segundo-based organization planned to send a total of more than 100 volunteers to the Philippines.

“Right now we’re operating out of the Tacloban area, but as needs change and evolve, we’re nimble and we’ll move to where we need to go,” he said, referring to the coastal city that was leveled in the disaster.

The group’s members, who utilize skills that they acquired while serving in various branches of the military, packed enough water and supplies to remain self-sufficient for more than a week.  Despite thorough preparations, however, they have been faced with harsh conditions and horrific scenes as they tend to the typhoon’s victims.

Kille said, who is himself a Marine veteran, his colleagues “have been outside sleeping out in the rain and the mud. They’ve been seeing horrific wounds and infections. … They’re doing medical triage, and there have been a lot of amputations due to those infections.”

To donate to Team Rubicon, visit teamrubiconusa.org.

TACLOBAN, Philippines (CNN) — More than a week after Super Typhoon Haiyan laid waste to much of the central Philippines, the toll is overwhelming: entire communities flattened, thousands dead and nearly 2 million people displaced.

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Bodies recovered after Typhoon Haiyan are buried in a mass grave (Credit: CNN).

The arrival in recent days of hundreds of aid workers and military troops has seen a floodgate of humanitarian aid — food, water and medical supplies — open, albeit sporadically, in the hard hit provinces.

Crews continued Saturday to collect bodies from streets, with the death toll increased to 3,637, according to the official death count.

The number of injured stood at 12,487, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported. At least 1,179 were missing.

A senior U.S. military official said approximately 9,000 U.S. troops are supporting the operation in the Philippines. U.S. military assets have delivered approximately 623,000 pounds of relief supplies.

The death toll could still climb higher, with an additional 1,000 cadaver bags sent to provinces, the disaster council announced as search-and-rescue operations continued in Tacloban City.

The national disaster council’s executive director, Eduardo Del Rosario, said the bags would be placed on standby, given that most of the bodies had already been buried in mass graves or claimed by relatives.

Cadaver bags are cleaned before being reused, he said.

The nation’s disaster agency said between 9 million and 13 million people were affected in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities. About 3 million were displaced, with about 400,000 of them finding shelter inside evacuation centers.

The Philippines News Association reported Friday that five-person teams that include a forensic expert and photographer would begin Saturday using a “quick system” for the bodies.

“Under the system, the public will not be allowed to view the identification process but relatives will be asked to participate in the final identification of corpses at an appointed time,” it reported, citing the Department of Health.

Each team will be required to handle 40 corpses per day, it said.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said that photos will be taken, identifying marks will be documented and belongings and tissue samples for possible use in DNA testing will be collected, when practical.

CEBU, Philippines (CNN) — In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, nights are often the hardest.

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Tacloban “is like something fresh out of a movie. It’s like survival of the fittest,” one survivor said. (Credit: Adam Prattler/CNN iReport)

It’s dark. It’s wet. It can be scary. There’s little to do and, for many, even less to eat.

“We don’t have homes. We miss our homes, and we have nothing to eat,” one storm victim taking shelter in a church told CNN, looking into the camera, tearfully appealing to viewers around the world: “We really need help now.”

That help is coming, on military and civilian transports, by air and by sea. But much of it is piling up at airports.

While relief organizations say they have been able to deliver limited aid to some victims, many CNN crews report seeing little sign of any organized relief effort in the hardest-hit areas.

Blame Haiyan and its unprecedented strength and scope, said UNICEF spokesman Christopher De Bono.

“I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault. I think it’s the geography and the devastation,” he said.

Still, the desperation is increasing, and becoming more serious.

Eight people died Tuesday in a stampede when hungry storm victims mobbed a government warehouse in Leyte province, Philippines National Food Authority Administrator Orlan Calayag said Wednesday. Police and security stood by as people stormed the building and took some 100,000 sacks of rice, he said.

When it struck Friday, Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, flattened entire towns, layered debris over roads and knocked airports out of commission.

The storm destroyed at least 80,000 homes, according to the latest Philippine government accounting. Although estimates of the number left homeless vary, the Philippine government puts the number at more than 582,000.

United Nations officials have warned of increasing desperation and lawlessness, They said the situation is especially dangerous for women and children.

Some areas haven’t even been reached yet, according to Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief.

There were, however, some successes. The road between the capital, Manila, and hard-hit Tacloban opened Tuesday, holding out the promise that aid will begin to flow more quickly. The U.S. Agency for International Development said it expected to deliver its first shipment of relief supplies to victims on Wednesday.

The UN’s World Food Programme began distributing food in Tacloban, handing out rice to 3,000 people on Wednesday, the agency said.

But more than 2 million people need food, according to the Philippine government, and even Amos acknowledged the pace of relief has been lacking.

“This is a major operation that we have to mount,” she said Wednesday. “We’re getting there. But in my view it’s far too slow. “

On Tuesday, President Benigno Aquino III defended relief efforts, saying that in addition to all of the challenges of blocked roads and downed power and communication lines, local governments were overwhelmed — forcing the federal government to step in and perform both its own role and those of local officials.

Most of all, he said, “nobody imagined the magnitude that this super typhoon brought on us.”

Decomposing bodies

Throughout the devastation, bodies of victims lie buried in the debris or out in the open.

The government hasn’t counted them all yet, but initial fears that 10,000 may have died have subsided.

The official death toll Wednesday morning stood at 2,275. Aquino told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that he expected the final number would likely be around 2,000 to 2,500.

While they are gruesome reminders of the human cost of the disaster, the dead are not a major public health threat, said CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

“From a pure health threat standpoint, there are bigger threats,” he said. People need clean food and water.

The slowness of delivery of food and basic medical aid is the biggest threat to lives, Gupta said.

“There are people there right now who can be saved. And it could be as simple as antibiotics that cost a penny.”

The World Health Organization agrees with Gupta that the decomposing bodies are a secondary concern.

“From a public health point of view, dead bodies do not cause infectious disease outbreaks,” said spokeswoman Julie Hall.

Clean food and water take priority, as well as shelter from the elements.

Unable to move on

But the psychological toll is heavy.

“I’ve seen dead people on the streets and the sidewalks,” said 9-year-old storm survivor Rastin Teves. “It made me feel scared.”

It is important psychologically to collect the bodies, treat them with respect and bury them in locations where relatives can find the graves, Hall said.

Survivors need to know where they are, to be able to grieve, move on and take care of themselves, she said.

In Tacloban, survivor Juan Martinez can’t do that yet.

He sits in a makeshift shack where his home once stood. Nearby, the bodies of his wife and two children are covered by sacks.

“I really want someone to collect their bodies, so I know where they are taken,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I want to know where they are taken.”

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh reported from Tacloban, Anna Coren reported from Cebu and Michael Pearson reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Paula Hancocks and Andrew Stevens contributed from Tacloban. CNN’s Ben Brumfield, Chelsea J. Carter and Larry Register contributed from Atlanta.

Surrounded by rubble, children swarm around a public well in this storm-ravaged city, where bodies are still lying in the streets days after a deadly typhoon struck.

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Emily Ortega rests after giving birth to Bea Joy at an improvised clinic at the Tacloban airport. (Credit: AP)

The children douse themselves with water and fill plastic cups and jugs.

“Even though we’re not sure that it is clean and safe,” Roselda Sumapit said, “we still drink it, because we need to survive.”

The scene on a street in the city of Tacloban is one of many CNN reporters and others have witnessed as residents deal with the death and destruction that Typhoon Haiyan left behind when the massive storm tore through the Philippines:

New life among death and chaos

Emily Ortega, 21, delivered a healthy daughter inside the Tacloban airport control tower.  According to the Associated Press, the young woman had to swim and cling to a post to stay alive before she was finally able to reach the airport.

Ortega reportedly named her daughter Bea Joy Sagales, after her mother who disappeared in the storm Friday.

Click here to see how you can help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

‘I’m going to die’

Shirley Lim still remembers the sounds she heard as the storm struck.

The wind was so strong, she said, it sounded like someone was crying.

“It’s like the movie ‘Twister,’” she said.

Speaking to CNN Monday from the city of Coron, Lim said one thought ran through her mind during the storm: “I’m going to die.”

But Lim survived.

Many homes in Coron were severely damaged by the typhoon, she said, as the howling winds ripped roofs off houses made of light material like bamboo.

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The size of Super Typhoon Haiyan: what it would have looked like on the U.S. East Coast. (Credit: CNN)

Prison inmates threaten breakout

A man stands on a rooftop, threatening to jump.

He is one of 672 inmates at a Tacloban prison, where food and water supplies ran out on Monday.

Now, the prison’s warden says the inmates have given him a warning, threatening a mass breakout in one or two days if they don’t get food and water.

From the prison’s rooftop, the inmate says he is devastated — but he doesn’t mention food or drink. He says he doesn’t know what happened to his family during the storm.

Desperate victims at airport

Magina Fernandez’s voice cracks as she comes face to face with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III at Tacloban’s airport.

Help, she says, hasn’t come quickly enough.

“We need to get the word out,” she tells him, “because the Philippine government can’t do this alone.”

Fernandez was among the steady stream of typhoon victims arriving at the airport, searching for food, water and a chance to escape. She tells CNN she is desperate to leave the city.

“Get international help to come here now — not tomorrow, now,” she says. “This is really, really like bad, bad, worse than hell, worse than hell.”

Fear spreads

Richard Young wears a green whistle on a plastic strap around his neck.

He has been carrying it since Saturday night when small groups started forming to defend his neighborhood. They stayed up all night, he says, prepared to whistle if they saw any looting.

But whistles aren’t the only thing they have, he says. Many also are carrying weapons.

“As long as they don’t harm my kids, my family, that’s OK,” he says. “But once we are threatened, we will shoot. All of us, we are ready.”

Already, the Filipino businessman says he’s been shocked at the looting he’s seen in the city — not just food, he says, but large appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. Thieves, he says, have already ransacked his shop and others nearby.

“We are very afraid. … In Tacloban we are almost 98% Catholics, and I can’t believe they did this,” he says. “Nobody would think it’s going to be lawlessness.”

‘We were just floating’

Tacloban City Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez and her husband, Mayor Alfred Romualdez were at their home facing the Pacific Ocean when the storm surge came, CNN affiliate ABS-CBN reported Tuesday.

Suddenly, water burst into the home and rose so quickly, the people inside had to punch holes in the ceiling and climb to the second floor to avoid being swept away, Gonzales-Romualdez told the network.

She found herself worried she would be swept out to sea.

“We were just floating, I was holding on to my kids,” she said.

Bodies everywhere

Days after the storm hit, bodies remain everywhere, some crudely covered, others exposed to the burning sun, CNN’s Paula Hancocks reports. Two bodies, one large and one small, lay under what appeared to be a bus shelter below a sign with the phrase, “I (heart) Tacloban.”

Officials tell Hancocks they are focusing on the living, but the bodies pose a health risk to survivors.

“The stench is overpowering,” she said.

Shocked by the devastation

Sebastian Rhodes Stampa knows devastation. The U.N. disaster assessment team chief has been to some of the worst crisis zones in the world.

The devastation from Typhoon Haiyan simply took his breath away when he set foot in Tacloban.

“I have to say, I was caught by surprise,” he said Monday. “Just getting off the military transport and looking at the airport, it almost wasn’t there. It was utterly destroyed.”

Traveling the region, he has seen huge boats thrown from the sea well up onto shore, and buildings knocked flat by the towering storm surge. In all, he said, these are scenes of “appalling devastation and tragedy.”

Checkpoints on crucial road

Police checkpoints appeared Monday on the 9-mile (15-kilomter) road from the airport to Tacloban.

Officers told Hancocks that desperate residents looking for food and water had been jumping onto trucks leaving the airport.

But CNN’s Andrew Stevens spent three to four hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the airport road and saw no aid trucks.

“We’re still going past dead bodies, we’re still going past a shattered landscape,” he reported.

The Marine contingent brought trucks to increase the capacity to bring supplies into the city.

Hundreds volunteer to pack aid

At the provincial welfare office in Cebu, hundreds of volunteers pack food and supplies into sturdy white bags.

An employee who gives his name as Richard tells CNN’s Anna Coren that students, workers and even tourists from Germany had arrived to help.

“I’m deeply touched,” he said.

Hospital without supplies

A hand-drawn sign at the front of St. Paul’s Hospital in Tacloban gives a sense of the dire situation there.

“No admissions,” it says. “No supplies.”

Without electricity at the large private hospital in this storm-ravaged city, workers used headlamps for light as they performed emergency first aid on victims who streamed in with wounds from flying debris.

“We just can’t keep going,” one doctor says. “There’s just no supplies.”

Searching for family lost in the storm

Splintered wood beams cover the ground where roads once connected a neighborhood near the coastline.

Here, the storm surge plowed down homes, leaving behind mounds of rubble as far as the eye can see.

Authorities pleaded with residents in the coastal area to evacuate as the storm approached. It’s unclear how many did, and how many may be missing.

Amid the chaos, one man says he is searching for his father, brothers and uncles under the rubble.

“We all tried to leave, but it was too late,” he says. “I got separated when the waters started rising. I don’t know what happened to them.”

Devastation for miles

From the air, the damage to Tacloban is striking.

Forests of palm trees were mowed down on hills surrounding the city.

Inside the city, the damage is catastrophic.

The storm surge shoved massive freight ships ashore.

Many buildings were flattened. Those that weren’t had large chunks ripped away by ferocious waters and winds from the storm.

William Hotchkiss, general director of the Philippines’ Civil Aviation Authority, says he’s never seen anything like it in decades of flying over the country after storms.

He says he fears his country faces more disasters like this in the future.

“The biggest challenge,” he says, “is to sort of come up with structures that will take into consideration what they call ‘the new normal’ — storms that are maybe as destructive as this one.

Here’s a list of some organizations that are aiding victims of Typhoon Haiyan:

Join KTLA and donate to the Red Cross: www.ktla.com/help

American Red Cross International Services
Visit: www.redcross.org
Call: 800-733-2767 (800-RED-CROSS)
Mail donations: American Red Cross 601 N. Golden Circle Drive, Santa Ana, CA 92705

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Survivors try to cope with the devastation wrought by the typhoon. (Credit: Maryann Zamora/World Vision)

Giving Children Hope
Visit: www.gchope.org
Call: 714-523-4454

Philippine Red Cross
Visit: ushare.redcross.org.ph

Filipino American Chamber of Commerce
Contact: Jun Jao, 949-751-8268

ROMAH FOUNDATION, INC.
Visit: romahfoundation.org
PO Box 18521
Encino, CA USA 91416

Mammoth Medical Missions
Visit: mammothmedicalmissions.org

UNICEF:
Visit: unicefusa.org/philippines
Call: 800-FOR-KIDS
Text: RELIEF to 864233 (UNICEF) to donate $10
Mail: 125 Maiden Lane, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10038

Gawad Kalinga USA
Visit: gk-usa.org

Operation USA
Visit: donate.opusa.org
Call: 800-678-7255
Check by mail to: Operation USA, PO BOX 36188, Los Angeles, CA 90036-0188
Text message: text AID to 50555 to donate $10

Team Rubicon
Visit: teamrubiconusa.org

Tini and Angie/One Strong F.A.M.I.L.Y.
Visit: tiniandangie.com

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