By Nichola Jones,
As Typhoon Hagupit finally exits the Philippines, a picture of the main needs on the ground is emerging. Damage appears to be moderate but in areas that bore the brunt of the storm such as Masbate, Samar and Leyte, food, water and emergency shelter are priorities.
It will be several days before we know the true extent of Hagupit’s impact, but the Red Cross is already providing emergency supplies to those hardest hit. Hot meals have been provided, by Red Cross teams, to thousands of families. A water tanker, rescue vehicles, an ambulance and vans to provide hot meals have also been sent to Samar along with a specially trained emergency crew. Hygiene kits, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and jerry cans for 30,000 families are also ready to go.
Kari Isomaa (IFRC) said that although some areas have been hit hard, pre-emptive measures did protect many people, “Good communication, evacuations and early warnings have helped to save lives.”
In Tacloban, which was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan last year, there have been reports of some damage to buildings but the Red Cross’ 700 newly built houses have withstood their first typhoon test. Community leader Tarcisio Gernale, in Dagami near Tacloban, said: “We knew we had to get to a safe place when we heard the typhoon was coming and many of us chose our new homes.” In Quezon province, tens of thousands of people spent up to three days in 452 evacuation centres but almost all have now left. Initial reports suggest some damage to rice farms in Padre Burgos and Catagauan in Quezon but homes have survived.
Grandmother Noemi Samieu, from Basiao in Quezon, saw her seaside home wrecked by Typhoon Glenda in July and was among the first people to evacuate before Hagupit hit.Standing in the ruins of her home, the 54-year-old said: “My house was completed destroyed by Glenda so I know the power of typhoons.”
“I evacuated with my family - we weren’t going to take any chances. When we returned, it was a relief to see the rest of the houses here had escaped this time.”
On 8th November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) made landfall on Guiuan, in the province of Eastern Samar in the Eastern Visayas region. Sweeping through Central Philippines, it left thousands of people dead and injured and devastated communities causing destruction to homes, livelihoods and infrastructure.
A year later, thanks to generosity of donors from Ireland and around the world, the Red Cross has so far built well over 6,000 homes, distributed cash and roofing material to 13,500 households for home repairs and distributed cash to more than 29,000 households as part of the livelihood support programme.
Red Cross teams have been working closely with local communities to repair and strengthen water systems and classrooms damaged by Haiyan. To date, 1,500 water systems have been constructed or repaired and 192 classrooms out of the planned 400 have been repaired and equipped, while 35 health facilities are being rebuilt and refitted.