PCI (Project Concern International) has sent a humanitarian rapid response and assessment team to the Philippines. The group is comprised of experienced disaster relief experts who have significant ties to San Diego and the local Filipino community.
The emergency response team consists of PCI's Humanitarian Assistance Director Jim DiFrancesca, who is headquartered in Washington, D.C., hails from the San Diego area and has worked to rebuild disaster-ravaged communities around the world. Chris Bessenecker, PCI's vice president for strategic initiatives, is based in San Diego and has led relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti and Indonesia. Dr. Maria Reyes, PCI's director for California programs, is a physician and development professional with strong ties to San Diego's Filipino community and relatives in the Philippines.
The team will be identifying the hardest hit areas and assessing the short-term, medium-term and long-term needs of these areas. The group will be working with partner organizations to fill the gaps in emergency response efforts currently underway. Along with this assessment, the PCI group will be providing immediate relief and response efforts when appropriate as well.
As of Tuesday, there were officially 1,774 deaths from the storm and that number is expected to rise. With wind gusts well above 200 mph and a massive storm surge, the storm displaced at least 800,000 people and has left more than 2 million people in need of shelter, food and water, the Philippine government said.
PCI has had a long history of providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by disasters and complex emergencies, most recently in Haiti after the 7.4 earthquake, and in Indonesia and India following the Asia Tsunami. PCI's humanitarian assistance efforts have focused on protection for vulnerable populations; water, sanitation and hygiene; health; shelter and housing; livelihoods; and education in emergencies. PCI emphasizes identifying the most vulnerable in remote, hard-to-reach areas.