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Hawaii Guard to help rebuild Philippines school damaged in typhoon

A team of relief workers from multiple nations welcome nearly 500 victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan to Villamore Airbase in Manila, Philippines after they were evacuated from Tacloban Airport, Tacloban, Philippines on Nov. 22, 2013.

The Hawaii Army National Guard will head to the Philippines as part of a collaborative effort to rebuild a high school in Tacloban devastated by Typhoon Hai­yan.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong announced plans to rebuild Marasbaras National High School during a ceremony Thursday at the Philippine Consulate General in Nuu­anu to commemorate Philippine Independence Day.

The 230th Engineers of the Hawaii National Guard will travel to the Philippines by the end of June and join the 1224th Engineer Support Company and the 254th Red Horse Squadron of the Guam National Guard to help the Armed Forces of the Philippines to rebuild the school. The proj­ect is part of Hawaii's long-term efforts to assist typhoon victims in the Philippines.

"We want to make sure these young people and the community there see something tangible so that they have hope, so that they know that they haven't been abandoned and forgotten," Abercrombie said.

Repairs will include rebuilding roofs and bathrooms, fixing and upgrading the electrical system, replacing shattered windows and damaged doors, and installing new flooring and light fixtures. Guardsmen will reinforce the structure to make it resilient to typhoons.

Work is expected to be completed by mid-September.

The cost to repair and rebuild the school is estimated at $1 million. The federal government and nonprofit organizations are funding the proj­ect.

Philippine Consul Roberto Bernardo said part of the school has already been refurbished, but a lot of work still has to be done. Students, meanwhile, are temporarily using tents to study in until all repairs are completed.

"We've got to put facilities in there so they can be certain that they'll have a place to go and courses to be taught and the security of knowing that they have a permanent place," Abercrombie said.

The National Guard also plan to survey other damaged areas in Tacloban to further assist the city with rebuilding and reinforcing structures to withstand powerful storms.

Typhoon Haiyan, described as one the world's strongest typhoons recorded, killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than 4 million people when it struck the central Philippines in November.

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