A Congressional delegation including Rep. Christopher H. Smith toured the devastation caused by Typhoon Halyan in the Philippines recently.
Smith, R-N.J., was part of a group of three that also included Reps. Al Green, D-Tx., and Trent Franks, R-Az. The trio toured the devastation in Tacloban City and surrounding areas in Leyte, and meeting with Filipino officials, including Foreign Affiars Secretary Alber de Rosario, to pledge ongoing U.S. support, the release said.
Smith and the delegation toured much of the devastation and at some staging areas assisted in handing out clean water kits and other basic supplies to help mitigate the spread of water borne diseases.
“I’ve been to many places around the world when there have been catastrophic typhoons hurricanes, earthquakes and even more,” Smith said in a release. “It is powerful to witness the Filipino people’s resiliency in the face of devastation, in the face the loss of life.”
The former U.S. territory and one of the U.S.’s closet allies in the Far East, the Philippine Islands suffered a direct hit by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on November 8.
More than 4,000 people were killed and thousands were injured. An estimated 4.4 million people have been displaced. The typhoon damaged more than 375,000 acres of local agriculture, including staples like rice, corn, and other vegetables.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that one million farmers and fishermen have lost their livelihoods, no longer able to contribute to the food supply.
A significant part of the trip was planned to spend time at emergency humanitarian staging areas of Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and other relief agencies that work out the logistics of delivering food, clothing and other essentials to those who need it the most, the release said.
“It’s all about generosity,” Smith said in the release. “We saw with Superstorm Sandy in my own state the devastation and the U.S. government—federal government—had our back because we needed it. Friends here in the Philippines, they have to know that we have their backs and I think that’s what USAID is doing, CRS (Catholic Relief Services) and the other NGOs (non-government organizations) so that’s the message I take away from here.”