Local humanitarian group headed to help with Typhoon aftermath - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Local humanitarian group headed to help with Typhoon aftermath

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A local humanitarian group is preparing to leave for the Philippines Thursday to help with relief efforts in Typhoon Haiyan's aftermath.

"Every disaster is different and every disaster has a different dynamic," said Chris Bessenecker.

Bessenecker is the Vice President for Strategic Solutions for Project Concern International. He and two other members, PCI's Humanitarian Assistance Director and PCI's director for California Programs, are flying to Manila and will land Saturday.

"The initial impact from a disaster is the smell, the smell of death," said Bessenecker.

The group specializes in relief efforts and rebuilding communities destroyed in natural disasters. Members responded to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and in Indonesia and India following the Asia Tsunami.

The death toll of Typhoon Haiyan stands at more than 2,300, but is expected to reach 10,000 with more than 500,000 people without homes.

"As terrible as this is, it's a real enriching and positive experience for us," said Bessenecker.

The group plans to help coordinate getting supplies off the tarmac and into vulnerable communities that haven't been reached.

"Go to the area that is the hardest to reach and hardest hit and work with the communities on what their needs are," said Bessenecker.

Once they reach the most vulnerable and help them, Bessenecker said another important need is communication saying, "To create a community that is more resilient so that next time something like this happens they are less likely to be victims."

He added that their goal extends beyond the immediate needs of the victims, they want to determine how to help in the next 12 to 24 months as they work to rebuild and create livable conditions.

"You are going to get through it and they are going to get beyond this and be in a better place," said Bessenker.

The group plans to be deployed for two weeks and then return to the Philippines at a later date.

Another local group, International Relief Teams, reported it has collected $50,000 since Sunday. They initially sent $20,000 to partners in the Philippines for food and water.

The group added that money is being used for food bags that are being prepared by its partners for delivery in Ormoc, which they traveled to by boat from Cebu. The food was procured and packed in Cebu City. They brought enough to sustain 1,500 families for a week.

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