Jacksonville Navy aircrews to render aid in Philippines

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - U.S. Navy P-3C aircrews in Jacksonville are preparing to deploy to the Philippines to assist the victims of the Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Nearly 4,000 people died in the massive typhoon, and survivors are still without food and fresh water.

In roughly a week, sailors stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville will move their entire squadron into a P-3C aircraft to assist the millions of storm survivors.

"There is still 500,000 Filipinos without food and fresh water," Capt. Eric Weise said. "No food, they are cut off, and that's the goal is to get those people survival items until the Republic of the Philippines can help them."

Weise said a Navy crew of 300 will provide round-the-clock assistance for the next six to seven months. They'll oversee safe landing zones in the Philippines and safe supply routes in storm-ravaged cities, looking for villages that have been cut off because of the super typhoon.

"As a matter of fact, some of the islands we thought were abandoned, villages that were abandoned, and by the third day, people started poking their heads out. There was a sailboat 30 feet in the air in a palm tree," Weise said.

The geography of the Philippines is making the relief efforts difficult because the nation is comprised of more than 7,000 islands. The P-3C crews in Jacksonville are packing up their entire squadron to relieve American forces already in the Pacific offering humanitarian aid.

"There's been no end time given to us," Weise said. "We are going to be there until the U.S. or Filipino government say we've got a handle on this. This mission will last weeks, if not months."

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