Hawaii National Guard to deploy for Philippines relief effort

Marasbaras National High School (Photo: Dept. of Defense)

By the end of the month, close to two dozen National Guard members from Hawaii and Guam will deploy to the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the country last November.

Richard Ancog and his wife just returned from a trip to the Philippines to visit family.

“Nothing has been improved,” he said. “It’s still all garbage left and right, houses down. They tried to build shacks for them to live.”

Seven months after the storm devastated the region, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving millions homeless, the Hawaii and Guam National Guards are gearing up for the first deployment to help with rebuilding.

“As time goes, people lose interest and forget about the devastated area and so we decided to push it later on in the year,” said Col. Kenneth Hara with Hawaii National Guard.

Hara says it can be more helpful to wait after the initial impact of a devastating event. “Right when you send everyone there at the same time, you can’t coordinate everything, and it takes some time to figure out who needs the most help,” he explained.

By the end of the month, teams will be rebuilding Marasbaras National High School in Tacloban.

“There will be four rotations from the Guam National Guard and also the Hawaii National Guard, about 20 people per rotation and about five people that will stay there for the entire event,” Col. Hara said.

The $1 million project includes reconstructing the school, rebuilding two buildings and five classrooms.

Kids are currently trying to learn out on the street next to the rubble.

“I think its really good, really good,” Ancog said.

This is just the beginning of a partnership between the Hawaii National Guard and other states as well.

“What we are hoping to do is maybe use other Guard units from the Army National Guard and so we will coordinate with them possibly, if everything works out, to ten states providing engineering assets for a really big project,” Col. Hara said.

This project is expected to be complete in three months but the relief effort will continue into next year.

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