Typhoon Nock-Ten, locally known as Juaning, slammed into the eastern mountain areas of the Philippine main island of Luzon on Wednesday, killing 20 people and displacing more than 600,000 others due to flooding. REUTERS/Rhaydz Barcia
Matt Cochrane, IFRC, Bangkok
Over the past 36 hours, more than 645,000 people have been evacuated in the Philippines after Tropical Storm Nock-Ten caused major flooding and damage across swathes of the country. Making landfall in the early hours of Wednesday 27 July, the storm swept across 25 provinces and claimed at least 25 lives, with dozens more still missing according to official sources.
Nock-Ten (known locally as Juaning) is the sixth storm to hit the Philippines since May, and serves as a timely and savage reminder that South East Asia has entered the 2011 storm and typhoon season.
As the storm made landfall over Dinalungan, Aurora Province (North-East of Manila), the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) activated emergency response teams (ERUs) and specialized volunteers. Amphibious trucks, rubber boats and search and rescue equipment were immediately placed on standby.
“Thanks to our network of skilled and experienced volunteers, we have fulfilled our auxiliary role by supporting evacuation and rescue efforts of local disaster authoritie,” said PRC Secretary General, Gwendolyn Pang.
“Our staff and volunteers are currently undertaking surveys on the ground to determine the extent and nature of assistance that may be needed by affected families.”
Extensive pre-storm season planning meant that resources were available, and teams of trained Red Cross volunteers were ready to swing into action. Emergency supplies for 10,000 people had been pre-positioned, enabling volunteers to quickly distribute food rations and basic supplies to hundreds of people who had fled to evacuation centres across the affected areas.
Now - Viet Nam
Nock-Ten cleared the Philippines early this morning (28 July). However its continued westward course is causing concern for communities on the eastern coast of Viet Nam. According to the government, the storm is predicted to hit the provinces of Quang Ninh and Hue on 31 July. Already, communities and local authorities are reporting heavy wind and rain, and warnings have been issued for boats and for fishermen.
An emergency bulletin issued by the Viet Nam Red Cross notes that branches in the areas expected to be affected have been placed on alert, with the organization’s headquarters liaising closely with the government to monitor the storm’s progress
Once again the value of preparedness and preparation look set to be proven. 10,000 household kits (made up of blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and water containers) are available in-country. One water treatment unit is on standby along with one million water purification sachets.
Tropical storm Haima
Nock-Ten is not the first storm to threaten Viet Nam. In late June, at least 22 people were killed and almost 3,000 homes destroyed when Tropical Storm Haima hit that country’s north-central coast.
Haima then cut across Lao PDR where the government estimates that at least 35,000 people were affected with 19 killed. The storm also destroyed much of the country’s rice crop triggering fears of increased food insecurity right across the country.