Congressman Al Green (TX-09) and leaders of Houston’s Filipino community held a candlelight vigil to express their sympathy for the victims of Tropical Storm Washi (locally known as the Sendong typhoon), which hit the Philippines on December 16, 2011. The typhoon resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 people. The vigil also served to publicly support the victims of Monday’s 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which struck the central provinces of the Filipino archipelago.
The Sendong typhoon first made landfall in the southern Philippines on December 16. The storm triggered flash flooding and landslides, uprooting trees and sweeping away houses. The northern section of the island of Mindanao, specifically the coastal cities of Iligan and Cayagan de Oro, suffered the worst damage.
“I am saddened by the loss of so many lives as a result of this natural disaster. The area is slowly recovering, but it is important to renew our solidarity with the Filipino people, who serve as essential partners to the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. My hope is that events like this vigil will remind us of the catastrophic damage that the Philippines have sustained due to the Sendong typhoon last December and the earthquake just this past Monday,” said Congressman Al Green.
The Filipino government is now shifting focus from emergency relief assistance to recovery as families return home or seek shelter with relatives.
“Even though the situation is slowly improving, there are still worrisome factors, such as illnesses caused by contaminated water. Therefore, collaboration between the U.S. government, individual citizens, and the organizations that are working in affected areas is very important. Additionally, helping the Filipino government to improve early flood warnings and evacuation plans can make a difference,” Congressman Green remarked.
To date, the U.S. Agency for International Development ---both through its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and its Philippines-based office--- has provided over $2.5 million in assistance, primarily to provide supplies, logistics and shelter, and to support initiatives to spur economic recovery of the region.