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RP US Humanitarian Relief Operations

8 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. Shelby Shields and Lance Cpl. Thomas W. Provost, Combat Correspondents

More than 8,000 “family food packs” that included bottled water were dispersed, more than 1200 medical patients were treated and debris removal operations were conducted this week by the combined efforts of the Republic of the Philippines and United States Forces. Areas in and around Manila were affected by flooding when Tropical Storm Katsana made landfall earlier this week.

“The Philippine government is deeply appreciative of our international partners’ swift response to our call for aid,” said Alberto Romulo, the Foreign Affairs Secretary, during an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney, echoed Romulo’s remarks and elaborated on the RP-US Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Efforts, in an interview with the Philippine Star newspaper.

 “At this time, we at the embassy are working side by side with the Philippine Government, military and civil society to bring much-needed humanitarian assistance to the people of the Philippines. We believe friends should help friends at a time of great need.”

During “food drop” missions the RP-US team utilized different transportation methods to deliver the “family food packs.” Crowded streets and heavy traffic initially proved to be obstacles for military vehicles conducting relief convoys.  However, in order to overcome these obstacles the Philippine National Police volunteered police escorts to ensure an efficient movement of relief supplies to the affected areas.

“The first day was chaos trying to navigate the streets,” said Cpl. Theodore Ramlal, a motor transport operator with III Marine Expeditionary force, 28 from Morris Plains, NJ. “Once we got the police escorts the food convoys were able to navigate the roads a lot faster, smother and safer.”

In addition to food drops the RP-US team executed medical and dental civil action projects to offer medical and dental assistance.

The medical and dental teams were able to treat minor medical issues and provided antibiotics, antifungal creams, vitamins and an array of tools to be better prepared during these projects.

“We’ve seen things here (in terms of the destruction) that we haven’t seen before,” said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Endicott, a medical officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force. “This is really the least we could do.  We wish we could stay longer,” said the Yakima, Wash. native.

The third mission this week was debris removal from impassable streets at multiple sites in Manila and some surrounding areas.   RP-U.S. engineers and local communities worked together to clear roadways and neighborhoods. 

Thus far more than 15 large dump truck sized loads of debris have been removed.

Other relief missions are being assessed by the National Crises Center and should soon be reviewed and will be approved by both RP-US governments. One major road clearing operation resulted in more than 30 percent of roads reopening.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit