Andrea Ashton of Goose Creek said her five sisters back home in the Philippines are trekking into the woods to a spring in order to survive.
“I don’t know if they have enough food and water,” she said.
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, many want to know how relatives are faring. And local residents have been asking how they can help.
On Wednesday, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley urged donations go to locally based Water Missions International to help provide safe drinking water for the storm-ravaged country. He issued a challenge to the community to raise $100,000 for the cause.
“I think it’s great that Mayor Riley is doing that,” Ashton said. “I would be glad to pitch in a little bit. I can give $25. I wish I had more money to give.”
Her sisters lost homes but are fine otherwise. They live near Lapinig in the province of Samar. They go to the river to wash clothes. They expect to be without electricity for two months.
“I’m just glad that they are OK and they are safe,” she said.
During a City Hall press conference, Riley recalled the outpouring of help for the city after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. “It made a huge difference in our recovery,” he said.
For $100,000, WMI said it can ship and operate four water systems in the Philippines that will serve a total of 20,000 people. The organization currently has 14 water systems there. This week, it will ship another 49 systems, giving the nonprofit the ability to serve a total of 300,000 survivors.
“That’s a lot of people but it’s still just scratching the surface. The big issue right now is support for people and equipment and logistics,” said George Greene III, WMI founder and CEO.
People are dying in the Philippines because of the situation. A deadly disease outbreak is also a worry, he said.
The typhoon struck the Philippines on Nov. 8. As of Thursday, the confirmed death toll stands at 2,357, with 3,853 injured. More than 11 million people have been affected. The United Nations has issued an appeal for $300 million in aid, and has released $25 million in emergency funds to provide immediate assistance, according to news reports.
Shortly after the historic storm, WMI mobilized a relief effort to supply safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of displaced victims in the nation of islands.
And Riley, members of the hospitality industry and various media outlets, including The Post and Courier, created an initiative called “Charleston Responds,” which is an opportunity for people to donate to the urgent needs of those in the Philippines through WMI.
Mickey Bakst, general manager of Charleston Grill, came up with the idea for a community-wide initiative.
“Let’s raise a lot of money,” he said.
Donations are being received at watermissions.org/CHSresponds.