Hawaii lawmaker helping villages in Philippines

Hawaii lawmaker helping villages in Philippines

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Six months after super typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines there is still plenty of work to be done. A local lawmaker is trying to help build villages in the hardest hit areas.

State Representative John Mizuno has been in the Philippines the past two weeks. He says the devastation that still exists is tough to comprehend.

Large boats are still up on land and thousands are still living in makeshift shacks and homes. This video was taken in Tacloban City, one of the hardest hit areas of Typhoon Haiyan.

"It's devastating just driving in and seeing houses by the hundreds leveled. It's completely, it's hard to comprehend," said Rep. John Mizuno, (D) Vice Speaker.

Haiyan caused more than $2.5 billion in damage and killed 6,300 people. Rep. Mizuno said one of the saddest sites was the mass gravesite for children.

"This was just the burial site for kids 10 and under and its heart wrenching we must have seen about 60 or 70 crosses just in one area," said Rep. Mizuno. "It's a very emotional trip for us being we have family in the area. Just hearing the horrific stories and now hoping we can turn the corner."

Mizuno met with various elected officials. His wife May is President of the Congress of Visayan Organizations (COVO) in Hawaii. COVO has held a variety of fundraisers and has partnered with the charitable group Gawad Kalinga to build two villages. One will be in Bohol that was hit by a 7.2 earthquake last October and another in Tacloban that was hit by Haiyan. Each of the 20 unit villages would cost $80,000, much of which has been raised.

"If we do it right we think other countries will follow," said Rep. Mizuno.

It's expected to be years before the damaged areas are cleaned up. Infrastructure problems are slowing things down, but help is still there and so is hope.

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