UPFRONT: Typhoon Relief

Philippines: Long Road Back from Yolanda

In more than 126 countries, The Salvation Army is a permanent part of the local community. We are a full community partner before, during, and after an emergency affects our friends and neighbors. Long after reporters have boarded planes and moved on to the next “story,” The Salvation Army is working to bring help, healing and HOPE. The recent “super typhoon” Yolanda (the largest ever recorded as hitting land), which slammed into the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, is a case in point.

Immediately after the worst of the storm had passed, as the water was receding, local Salvation Army officers and volunteers went to work. When large crowds of people became stranded at the Tacloban airport awaiting evacuation flights, The Salvation Army began distributing food and water to people who had nowhere else to go. Many other distributions quickly followed (food, water, hygiene kits, etc.) as The Salvation Army worked to sustain people who had no other options.

As of early February, emergency food distributions were no longer required, but The Salvation Army is still hard at work assisting families. Vegetable seeds and gardening tools are being distributed to 5,000 farming families whose crops were destroyed by the storm, and materials are being sourced to enable 3,000 families to repair roofs.

Challenges will remain even after these early recovery needs are met. One of the most significant and longest–term legacies from Yolanda (or Haiyan) is the widespread damage done to large sectors of the economy. An overwhelming majority of local farmers (especially coconut farmers) have lost their trees, and their livelihoods, for many years to come. Families who gain their income from fishing were heavily affected, as were numerous retailers and other non–agricultural workers whose businesses were destroyed.

Plans are already underway to address those needs. In February, a high–level group of Salvation Army leaders from the Philippines and emergency and projects experts from International Headquarters and other key locations around the world made a two–day visit to the affected areas, where they met with local government officials and representatives from the U.N. and other response agencies. They also received information gleaned from a series of interviews conducted by Salvation Army emergency operations personnel with affected families. Then the Salvation Army group met in Manila to plan a sustainable strategy for long–term relief efforts.

The Salvation Army is committed to standing by our neighbors for the long haul, not just the news cycle.

by Mike McKee 

The writer, a Salvation Army major, is the International Emergency Operations coordinator for Typhoon Yolanda relief. He is based in Tacloban, the Philippines.


273,315 meals
In 1–week supply food packs

4K+ patients
Medical support & vaccinations

1K people per day, 10 days
Emergency snacks at airport, seaport Manila & Tacloban[/one_half]



Bayanihan—A Journey of Hope
This documentary follows two SA cadets searching for their families following the typhoon.

To donate to relief efforts, go to:


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