WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- Across the our region, people are planning fundraisers, church suppers, Facebook campaigns -- all in hopes of rushing help to the Philippines.
From her home in Reston, Bing Cardenas Branigan of the Asia America Foundation and the Nat'l Assoc. of Filipino American Associations is coordinating a second flight filled with medicine for the Philippines-- more than a million dollars worth. But she knows it's not enough. "Don't wait for an invitation. This is a disaster. No invitation needed now. Help our people. We are so helpless."
Branigan suspects the government of the Philippines could have done more to prepare for the storm, but now that it's left perhaps 9.5 million people struggling, 600,000 homeless, 10,000 dead, she's pleading for more US assistance... more than the US Marines already on the ground. "It's heartbreaking Mr. President. Just send more help."
The American Red Cross has deployed four people to help coordinate shelters and feeding and assess the damage.
They've brought along their own communications gear.
"There's massive destruction to infrastructure. Basic cellular reception is not available," says Colin Chaperon of the Red Cross.
The Red Cross pre-positioned blankets, gerry cans for water, rice bags, pots and pans, even just shampoo so people can clean themselves up.
Americans love to donate clothing and canned goods -- but relief experts say that's not what they need now. "The best way to help is for them to send money, to UNICEF, to the Philippines Red Cross, to the American Red Cross," says Branigan.
Yourmoney can save lives.
The US Agency for International Developmentjust announced it's sending $20 million in humanitarian assistance.