One day after Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, NRECA’s International Foundation launched a typhoon relief fund-raising campaign to help restore power in the areas devastated by one of the strongest storms to hit land (www.nreca.coop/philippines-typhoon-relief). The Leyte and Cebu regions south of the archipelago were hit the hardest, leaving the population without power, safe drinking water, food, or shelter.
Winds traveling at 190 mph ravaged 30 out of 119 Filipino electric cooperatives and heavily damaged nine. All power lines in the city of Tacloban were leveled and Leyte II Electric Co-op lost nine employees. NRECA’s International Program immediately authorized $25,000 to support transportation, accommodation, fuel and other direct costs for Filipino crews that were mobilized immediately to assist in relief and recovery efforts.
NRECA’s International Programs, the original program architect in the Philippines, has maintained a long and close partnership with this country’s electric cooperative community. Program veterans Bob Dalton and Ray Thayer were dispatched to the typhoon-ravaged areas to provide damage assessments and collaborate with the Philippine National Electrification Administration (NEA) to determine how best to support the restoration and reconstruction efforts.
Within a few days, a steady stream of emails from NRECA and NEA staff painted dismal and gruesome pictures of survival. However, much like their U.S. counterparts, Philippine co-ops are rallying to help, and more than 360 local Filipino linemen from 38 co-ops left their hometowns to help rebuild and restore power in the devastated areas. Several co-ops including, Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative, Benton REA, the Electrical Cooperatives of South Carolina, Wabash Valley Power, Wood County EC, Cooke County ECA and Blue Ridge EMC have already made strides to help their fellow cooperatives in a time of dire need. Many other US co-op members have also pledged assistance.
Dalton reported that the crews maintain great attitudes and energy, and that it was amazing to “see these people come together to get the power back on to their consumers while living in the ruined offices and roofless warehouses.”
Dalton added, “Through the destruction, crews maintain great attitudes and energy as they are supported by co-op employees and management who work hard to provide food and water for the teams. The power of the cooperatives and the ever positive Filipino people is fueling restoration of electricity with an unimaginable vigor and tireless energy.”
To get updates on relief and rebuilding efforts, “like” NRECA’s International Foundation’s Facebook page at facebook.com/NRECAInternationalFoundation. To donate funds, go to www.nreca.coop/philippines-typhoon-relief.