LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As members of the military veterans relief group Team Rubicon left Los Angeles for the Philippines on Tuesday, local residents returned home with accounts of the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
Four members of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit organization started in 2010 by two former Marines who wanted to help with earthquake relief in Haiti, departed from Los Angeles International Airport.
The group boarded a 17-hour flight to the Philippines, where they will join 15 other military veterans and first-responders already on the ground conducting search-and-rescue missions, providing emergency medical treatment and helping coordinate resources in the field.
The super-typhoon struck the region Friday, bringing flooding and heavy winds that devastated infrastructure, displaced thousands and killed an estimated 2,500 people, according to the most recent estimate from Philippines President Benigno Aquino.
“It’s going to be really hard,” said David Smith, a member of Team Rubicon. “The infrastructure is almost destroyed. It’s difficult to get any type of air, medical lift, anything. We’re just going to get on the ground and do what we do best, which is adapt and overcome.”
This group will be tasked with helping establish a supply route to transport resources to the hardest-hit areas of the nation.
Also at LAX, relieved family members welcomed their loved ones returning home from the Philippines.
Huntington Beach resident Carlos Ali, who said he was 10 miles from the hardest-hit area, described scenes of death and devastation.
“Seriously, the worst thing I ever seen in my whole life. We’ve seen things on TV, you’ve seen things on national TV,” Ali said. “Nothing compared to that.”
Downey resident Sheena Bianban said it was a relief to be back home from Manila.
“It’s really nice to be back and try to help them in the little ways I can,” she said. “They need help. Lots of help.”