One of the less obvious but more detrimental effects of Typhoon Haiyan was the large-scale destruction of the mangrove forests. These 10 to 15-foot tall, thick-branched trees grow in shallow coastal waters and are vital to supporting a healthy ecosystem. Their loss has proven to be a devastating blow to the local economies that depend on fishing. To revive the ocean live and the industry that depends upon it, Filipino NGOs have made a concerted effort to redevelop the mangrove forests, and to that end, asked Redstone to survey their progress in some of the more remote areas.
In town 1 and town 2, Redstone operators charted growth along the shoreline and scaled coastal hilltops to observe the relative growth rates of replanted mangroves. Although a short-term mission for this initial deployment, the mangrove regrowth and observation is a good example of the sort of long-term data collection and reporting that will be a cornerstone of Redstone’s global contribution.
One of the most heart-rending stories we heard involved the massive landslide in Tacloban. A large family in a small fishing village left their coastal home in a bid to escape the looming storm surge and fled to a relative’s home inland, only to have that home washed violently away by the crushing tide of earth from the hill above. Seven family members were killed.
In an effort to better understand this landslide and prevent future ones, Redstone’s Filipino NGO partners asked for our help surveying the aftermath. Ground level images were of no use, and physically scaling the slide was not an option, so Redstone operators employed a drone to obtain bird’s-eye images of the entire area. The survey revealed important information about the slide and the precise extent of the damage. The slide, for example, was not one but rather three separate landslides.
It it is our hope that our data will greatly aid in mitigating future disasters and that future aerial capabilities, such as 3D mapping will expand Redstone’s ability to provide that aid
The 200mph winds and 20-foot storm surge from Typhoon Haiyan left literally millions of people homeless. The worst of the damage was in Tacloban, and we thought there would be no more appropriate way for Redstone to kick off its first mission than to put strong backs into building homes for Tacloban’s displaced. Alongside local carpenders builders, Redstone operators sweated it out in the sun and rain with hammers and saws to build a total of five wood-frame houses from the ground up. Though this sort of unspecialized project is not what Redstone will be focusing on, it provided a fantastic opportunity for the team to forge relationships in the community and bond with one another during a tough, dirty and incredibly rewarding mission.
To highlight some of the work we were able to accomplish:
-Captured aerial imagery using drone technology of a landslide region on the island of Leyte, giving PDRF a visual image of where the landslide occurred and the devastation areas that are non-‐accessible by land.
-Waterproof and seal a temporary housing system known as the “Butterfly House” that is used for displaced persons, and installed solar panels as well as water filtration systems in the community.
-In Panippiason, the team will collect a consensus of the village’s recommendations for PDRF concerning what is needed to improve the sight and improve the quality of life in the region.
-Continued site survey of a Marikina Watershed two hours outside Metro Manila – collecting grid coordinates and providing imagery of the reforested region to assist PDRF in analyzing the efficacy of their project.
The trip was impactful on a variety of levels – for the veterans participating and for the communities and organizations we assisted in our efforts. From building houses to collecting high-‐resolution aerial imagery, Redstone’s team utilized the varied skillets of the individual teammates to create better mechanisms for the application of humanitarian response and crisis mitigation. We look forward to consolidating our documentation of the trip, and providing you with some comprehensive videos and photographs outlining the impact we had across the Philippines.