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More than 50 guests attended “Tsunami Recovery: Five Years Later,” a presentation given on November 4 by Gerald Anderson, Senior Director of the American Red Cross Tsunami Recovery Program (TRP). The Manhattan home of Yvonne Liu, a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Red Cross in Greater New York, served as the setting for Mr. Anderson’s talk. The presentation was augmented by large photographs by Daniel Cima set up as panels around the room to provide further context to the presentation.

Mr. Anderson, who has been with International Red Cross since 1992, was deployed to Indonesia just days after the deadly December 26, 2004 tsunami caused a massive loss of life and devastated areas in more than a dozen countries across Asia and East Africa. He explained how the TRP was created as a response to this enormous disaster, how the American Red Cross and its sister societies around the world provided volunteers and significant funding, and how the Red Cross has used the program as a vehicle to help thousands of people to rebuild their lives.

The TRP, slated to end in 2010, has six key program areas: water and sanitation, psychosocial support, health, shelter, livelihoods and disaster preparedness. As a result of initiatives in each of these areas, tens of thousands of families now have access to clean water, and thousands have moved from temporary shelters into permanent homes. “Five years after the tsunami,” said Mr. Anderson, “survivors are embracing a brighter future.”

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The Asia Pacific region has been hit by a series of calamitous natural disasters over the past seven days leaving tremendous destruction across four areas. The global Red Cross network has been among the first responders to provide relief and emotional support to traumatized families as well as first aid to the sick and injured.

In Indonesia, two devastating earthquakes 24 hours apart have left nearly 1,000 dead and many others trapped. The Indonesian Red Cross has dispatched hundreds of volunteers, including 45 doctors, to the quake zone to offer first aid services, shelter and other assistance for those in need, and is moving thousands of relief supplies to Padang.

On September 29, an 8.3-magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami, affected the Pacific islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa, a United States territory. The American Red Cross is providing food, shelter, water and other needed supplies in American Samoa, as well as helping with debris removal. A leadership team of about 70 volunteers is also on its way to the island to supplement the local Red Cross workforce. In the sovereign nations of Samoa and Tonga, their respective Red Cross societies are running relief efforts to provide assistance to affected residents, including operating five camps for now homeless families.

Last week’s Typhoon Ketsana wreaked havoc across the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, causing record-level floods, destroying houses and taking lives. In addition to the thousands of local Red Cross volunteers and employees who are providing emergency relief in their countries, the American Red Cross is contributing an initial $100,000 worth of supplies — including mosquito nets, jerry cans and blankets — to the Philippines from the Red Cross warehouse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An additional $50,000 cash is going to Vietnam to support their relief efforts.

Chronology of disasters striking Asia Pacific region:

  • Oct. 1: A second major earthquake shook Jambi province in Indonesia, 180 miles from the epicenter of the September 30 quake
  • Sept. 30: A 7.6-magintude earthquake was recorded off the West coast of Indonesia, about 30 miles from Padang, the capital of West Sumatra
  • Sept 29: A tsunami follows in the wake of the earthquake which affected the Pacific Islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa
  • Sept. 29: An 8.3-magnitude earthquake affects the Pacific islands of Samoa, Tonga and America Samoa
  • Sept. 26: Typhoon Ketsana made its first landfall and dumped torrential rains in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

The Red Cross urges those who have been able to contact loved ones on American Samoa to register them with Safe and Well, the best way to share information about their status. You can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site at www.redcross.org/safeandwell. If you do not have internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-866-438-4636 to register your loved ones. The information you post will let other loved ones know about the well-being of those on the island. For any questions about Safe and Well email safe@usa.redcross.org.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Donations to the International Response Fund can be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at http://www.redcross.org.

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The American Red Cross is on the ground in American Samoa where a tsunami swept across the island after a powerful earthquake hit the South Pacific.

Red Cross has dozens of volunteers already providing food and supplies to those on the island.  A team of 50 volunteers is being sent in to supplement the efforts of the local Red Cross team.  The Red Cross has a warehouse on American Samoa supplied with cots, flashlights, and cooking and clean-up supplies, and will be sending in additional supplies as quickly as possible.

“We will get there as quickly as we can with what we can,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services.  “Our first priority is to provide food and water.”  After yesterday’s 8.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, a significant portion of American Samoa is without power or water amid widespread damage.

Getting information out of the island is very slow at this time.  The Red Cross urges those who have been able to contact loved ones on American Samoa to register them with Safe and Well, the best way to share information about their status.  You can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Website at www.redcross.org.  If you do not have internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS to register your loved ones.  The information you post will let other loved ones know about the well-being of those on the island.  Please note – Safe and Well works only on American Samoa.  The service will not work on Samoa.

American Samoa, a group of seven islands about 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii, is a United States Territory.  American Samoa and the independent country of Western Samoa make up the Samoan group of islands in the center of Polynesia.  According to news reports, four tsunami waves about 15 to 20 feet high came ashore on American Samoa after the earthquake in the South Pacific.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C.20013. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.nyredcross.org/donate.

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