Philippine Typhoon Leaves Hard-Hit Areas Suffering

Supplies are desperately low after a massive typhoon hit the Philippines. Linda Wertheimer talks to Lynette Lim of Save the Children in Manila about the catastrophic typhoon.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

In the Philippines, officials estimate at least 10,000 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyahn. The hardest-hit areas are very grim, supplies are running desperately low.

LYNETTE LIM: Lynette Lim works in the Philippines with Save the Children. She joins us on the line from the capital, Manila. Ms. Lim, welcome to the program.

Thank you for having me.

WERTHEIMER: Now, yesterday, you were in Tacloban City, which is one of the places most devastated. Can you give us a feeling for what you saw there?

LIM: Well, yes. After the storm had subsided, we went outside and we saw, you know, trees had fallen, electrical lines were down, complete areas had been totally flattened. There's not a single building that was unaffected in this disaster. It was truly catastrophic.

WERTHEIMER: Now, you went back to Manila. Why did you - why'd you leave?

LIM: Well, we couldn't get any communication lines out to headquarters to tell them to bring in the necessary relief items that we needed for the worst-affected children and their families, and without that information, they can't bring in the relief goods. So it was essential for us to pull out someone in order to communicate that.

WERTHEIMER: What does the relief effort look like now? Is it even possible to move supplies in?

LIM: Well, yes. We're looking at ways to do it, and we've set up two operational bases on Leyte itself, and just working to, you know, get pickup trucks in, and also to mobilize all of the relief supplies that we already have in terms of medical supplies, hygiene items, clean water, as well as shelter items so people could feel safe at night.

WERTHEIMER: Tacloban is in the province of Leyte. Your organization is dedicated to children. Are they at special risk in a situation like this?

LIM: Well, certainly, children are the most vulnerable in any disaster. And in this case, many of the children that I've seen in evacuation centers were severely malnourished. And, you know, going more days without food, without clean water could be fatal, could be - especially the young children.

WERTHEIMER: Relief goods are coming in from all over the world. Is it possible to coordinate between international organizations and NGOs and other people who are trying to help?

LIM: Well, certainly, I mean, beginning with trying to map out what the key needs are in the key areas, and then between the aid agencies, just splitting those areas up and really focusing on delivering relief items to those affected families in the area, just trying to show that the children are reached through water, given shelter. There's so much to be done, and I think aid agencies can really coordinate well on this to make it happen.

WERTHEIMER: Presumably, the most serious needs are for food and water. What about power? What about fuel? Is there any possibility of getting that kind of thing into these areas that are hard-hit?

LIM: Well, certainly, the government is working to ensure that the basic infrastructure is reinstated - especially in terms of power and communication lines, and ensuring that government buildings are rebuilt, as well as hospitals, key essential buildings and facilities that people and children need in order to survive. It will take months, perhaps even up to a year, but those are the essential things. And I believe that the government is doing all it can in order to restore all of those services to people.

WERTHEIMER: Lynette Lim with Save the Children, speaking to us from Manila. Thank you very much.

LIM: You're welcome.

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