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CRS commits $1 million in Southeast Asia

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Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is mobilizing in multiple countries in Southeast Asia battered by a typhoon, a tsunami and an earthquake over the last week. While the immediate focus is on rescue efforts and emergency relief, CRS and partner Caritas Internationalis (CI) are already planning for the long-term reconstruction vital to recovery efforts.

• Typhoon Ketsana (known locally as Typhoon Ondoy) made landfall in The Philippines Sept. 26. More than 80 percent of the capital city Manila experienced flooding, and as the waters recede, residents face monumental cleanup efforts. Luc Picard, CRS' country representative in The Philippines, said "The mud is horrible. People's houses were completely submerged, and now they've basically lost everything. In some towns, they're using front end loaders to clean the mud off the streets. Figuring out what to do with all that mud will be a challenge."

• After dropping torrential rains on The Philippines, Typhoon Ketsana hit Vietnam Sept. 28. In the Quang Nam province more than 150,000 homes are severely damaged. Road washouts and mudslides have hindered emergency response efforts. CRS is coordinating a response with the Vietnamese government and local partners.

• An 8.3 magnitude earthquake Sept. 29 triggered a tsunami that hit American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga. CRS, working through Caritas Australia, will support the efforts of Caritas Samoa and Caritas Tonga to provide relief for those who lost their homes and livelihoods to 15-foot- high waves.

• Finally, a Sept. 30, earthquake caused major injuries and damage to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. CRS Indonesia has extensive experience responding to emergencies and a team is en route to begin assessing local needs.

CRS' Emergency Response Team will utilize their decades of experience coordinating disaster relief around the world to provide assistance on multiple fronts. "We have mobilized, and with our Caritas Catholic Church partners, we are providing emergency assistance to the families affected by these disasters," said CRS President Ken Hackett. "These are our brothers and sisters who are in dire need. Our prayers are with them and we will do all we can to help.

"The emergency phase of these disasters will pass quickly," he said. "But the recovery phase will go on for many months."

How to Help

Donate via phone: 1-877-HELP-CRS

Donate online: crs.org

Write a check: Catholic Relief Services

P.O. Box 17090

Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2009