MANCHESTER — Three New Hampshire residents are expected to land in the Philippines Sunday morning, members of a relief mission bringing medical supplies and funds to purchase food for the people affected by a category five super typhoon that crossed the country Friday.
On Friday, Vision International Missions in Manchester dispatched a team of three volunteers — Laura Morgan of Manchester, Paul Kaminski of Hollis, and Joe Campbell of Goffstown — to Logan International Airport in Boston where they boarded a flight bound for Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the Philippines, to assist residents of that country any way they can in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
"They cross the international dateline, so they should arrive sometime Sunday morning," said the Rev. Kenneth Whitten, president and director of Vision International Missions, located at 400 Bedford St. "By then, the storm should have passed, and they should be able to fly right in, land, and get to work distributing medical supplies and equipment."
Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda in the Philippines, slammed into the island of Samar, on the eastern edge of the Philippines, early Friday morning and quickly moved across the islands in the center of the country. International media outlets reported that many areas of the country remained unreachable Friday night.
The storm was moving across the country last night at about 25 mph, twice as fast as Typhoon Bopha last year, which killed more than 1,000 people.
"Our contact on the ground are saying at last count, the storm had killed four people," said Whitten. "But they also said the phones are out, and it's hard to know the extent of the damage and destruction. Unfortunately, I think that number (of dead) could go up once people can get around and survey the situation."
Morgan, vice president of Visions International, runs Morgan Storage and Morgan Records Management with her husband Charlie, and is an active member of the community and volunteers for several causes. Kaminski serves on the Pastoral Advisory Committee with the River of Life Church in Amherst, and is the medical clinics coordinator for Vision International. Campbell is a high school senior from Goffstown.
"This trip came together very fast, and they all volunteered to go quickly," said Whitten.
New Hampshire Red Cross spokesperson Lisa Michaud said Friday that Red Cross volunteers in areas where the typhoon had already made landfall were reporting significant damage although a clearer picture will only emerge once the storm subsides and communications are restored.
"The American Red Cross is in close contact with our counterparts in the Philippines and is ready to provide assistance if requested," said Michaud.
Although the eye of the Typhoon Haiyan is not expected to make landfall on the island of Bohol, Whitten said severe weather and heavy rains accompanying the storm are expected to worsen the situation for survivors of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-October. With their homes damaged or destroyed, some 270,000 people in Bohol are living in makeshift shelters.
Michaud said the Philippine Red Cross has been working closely with local disaster authorities to support pre-emptive evacuations. More than 125,000 families were taken to safer shelter ahead of Haiyan's landfall.
Whitten said he expects the Vision International team to remain in the Philippines at least a week.
"At that point, they'll assess the situation on the ground," said Whitten. "They will likely return at that point, unless it would be more beneficial if they stayed and helped."
Whitten said the team has funds to purchase rice to distribute to residents in the hardest-hit areas of the Philippines.
Vision International Missions is an interdenominational, nonprofit, Christian mission organization. Anyone wishing to help with the efforts can send donations to: Vision International Missions, 400 Bedford St, Suite 304, Manchester, NH 03101.
"One hundred percent of all financial donations will be sent to our contact in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines," said Whitten.