The Red Cross is gearing up for a humanitarian relief effort in response to the impact of Typhoon Hagupit (locally known as Ruby), which is sweeping across central Philippines and southern Luzon island.
Although the storm has weakened since it first made landfall on Saturday night, it continues to traverse slowly across islands in the Sibuyan Sea with winds gusting up to 150 Kph. The heavy rains accompanying the typhoon are the greatest cause for concern.
Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Richard Gordon, warned against complacency, “At this stage, we don’t know the full extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Hagupit. It will linger over the Philippines and we can expect incessant rains to continue for the next few days. We are very concerned about the safety of people living in low-lying and mountainous areas who are at a high risk from flash-floods and landslides”.
Hagupit is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan struck last year. While not as strong as Haiyan, Hagupit could have significant humanitarian consequences for thousands of people living in its path, particularly those still recovering from the effects of Haiyan.
Red Cross assessment teams visiting Samar Island and Southern Luzon found roofs blown off, trees brought down and electricity and communication lines cut in some areas. There are fears that the impact of the typhoon could be more severe in remote areas of northern Samar which have been so far inaccessible due to blocked roads. Today, further assessments are being carried out to inland and coastal communities.
The Red Cross hass pre-positioned food and non-food relief stocks sufficient for 75,000 families. Hundreds of Philippine Red Cross volunteers have also been mobilised to pack relief items and provide cooked meals to thousands of people who remain in evacuation centres.
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.
See @Irishredcross on Twitter for Typhoon Hagupit updates