Virgin Islands officials have expressed support and sympathy to the survivors of the record-breaking storm, Typhoon Haiyan, which smashed into the Philippines on Nov. 7, leaving a swath of destruction in its wake.
Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen offered words of comfort to members of the territory’s Filipino community.
“We have a significant Filipino community here in the Virgin Islands, working in the medical field as physicians and nurses, as well as educators in our public schools,” said Christensen, who extended her support to Filipino Americans living in the Virgin Islands who have relatives and friends who still live in the Philippines and are concerned about their welfare at this time.
“Many of these families are still awaiting word from their loved ones.”
According to news reports, 2,357 people have been confirmed dead and 600,000 people were displaced by last week’s powerful storm, and many remain hungry, thirsty and sick. The southeast Asian nation is a U.S. treaty ally, and the United States is providing $20 million in immediate aid and ships and aircraft to help distribute supplies, including a contingent of 1,000 troops to help in the relief effort.
Estimates place the wind speed of the typhoon as high as 237 miles per hour
Christensen said she was pleased that the United States was among the first to step in with aid and encouraged Virgin Islanders to donate to the Red Cross and other aid agencies to provide relief to people in the Philippines.
“The people of the Philippines have always been our friends, they have fought in our wars, and it is only fitting that our country be there during their most desperate time,” Christensen said. “Virgin Islanders have always been generous as well and we consider the people of the Philippines to be our family too. Our prayers, love and support are with them.”
Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone also extended condolences to the Virgin Islands Philippine community as a result of the catastrophic destruction.
"As a community that has experienced the devastation of mega storms during the last century, we share the concern of people throughout the world for the people of the Philippines who are facing significant losses and public health issues as a result of the storm," Malone said. "We are also prayerful that the new approaching typhoon will bypass the Philippine islands without further worsening of the now critical situation."
Malone said he was pleased that the United States military is in the forefront of providing humanitarian relief and rushing relief supplies to the area. Many other countries have pledged hundreds of millions dollars to charitable relief efforts.
Malone urged the Virgin Islands community to support relief organizations that are being mobilized to feed, clothe and house the hundreds of thousands affected by this disaster.