What better time to hear from a member of our Canadian Forces, but on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.  

Warrant Officer Chris Brown spoke to us about his experiences of being deployed with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (D.A.R.T.) in November 2013, in response to the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan (one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded) in the Philippines. 

It was an impressive and moving talk, which left us feeling proud and thankful to all the men and women of our Canadian Forces. 


When Warrant Officer Chris Brown arrived to the Philippines, it was just a week after the Typhoon hit, and the average daily temperature was 55 degrees Celsius!

The island, with a population of 3.5 million people, is around 12 000 km squared, that's just twice the size of PEI to put into perspective the population density.  

The D.A.R.T. of 310 crew built 3 bridges and cleared 131 km of road with a team of 10 Engineers, allowing them to restore power to the island in only 3 weeks time. They were able to restore the electrical generating system at the hospital right away, which allowed the hospital to perform 5 critical surgeries that day. The roads also allowed them to deliver potable water faster by loading a water buffalo on a flatbed truck, transporting 5 000 litres of water at a time. 

They built 3 reverse osmosis water stations on the island, which purify 5 litres/hour of sewage to potable water at Canadian standard's. Just to be sure, they have trained personnel on hand to test the water and if it doesn't meet Canadian standards, it will go through the purification process again.  Unfortunately many locals where coming to the water stations with contaminated gas cans, which they couldn't let people use for water, thankfully UNICEF provided 5 litre water jugs, ensuring potable water for safe consumption.

The D.A.R.T. had the Griffin helicopter with them that proved to be highly successful, allowing them to access remote areas on the island. Total flying time was 5 700 hours.  They were able to provide food and 200 sediment removal water purifiers, which are good for 5 years. They also provided training on how to maintain the water purifiers. 

The 3rd week in, an oil barge spilt 90 000 litres of oil along the shore, which displaced 60 000 people. The D.A.R.T were able to contain the oil spill and built a 10 000 man camp in partnership with UNICEF and Doctors without Borders. They also worked with the Philippine Army and built sun shelters the traditional way, out of bamboo.

Overall, they were able to treat 6 525 medical patients, and deliver 230 000 pounds of food in 3.5 weeks. They worked in partnership with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Doctor's without Borders, World Vision, and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade.

Before being deployed on a project like this, the military provides intensive training to prepare crew mentally for the worst and to reduce the shock upon arrival. By the time they arrived in the Philippines, the Philippine Army had dealt with all the dead bodies, which made focusing on reconnecting villages to aid and infrastructure much faster and safer. 

Warrant Officer Chris Brown shared that this was the most gratifying experience of his life! He said when flying into the remote villages, where most people had never seen a helicopter before, and providing them food and water was so moving and rewarding.