By Afrhill Rances in Manila
As the full picture of destruction wrought by Typhoon Bopha continues to emerge two weeks after it made landfall on the west coast of the Philippine island of Mindanao, the Philippine Red Cross and its partners are increasing support to affected communities.
Today, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a revised emergency appeal of 16.2 million Swiss franc (13.4 million Euros). Due to the rising scale of humanitarian needs, the appeal has almost quadrupled to enable the Philippine Red Cross to provide relief and recovery assistance to some 40,000 families (approximately 200,000 people) over the coming 18 months.
Typhoon Bopha, locally known as Pablo, made landfall at 4:45 AM in Baganga municipality of Davao Oriental province and left a trail of destruction across 34 Provinces. As of 19 December, the national disaster agency reports that 6.2 million people have been affected. Over 1,000 people were killed, and 841 are still missing. Six provinces remain under a state of calamity.
The appeal will help people like Fe Flores. She is currently living in a temporary evacuation shelter and is one of over a million people whose homes were damaged or destroyed. When the typhoon struck, she took shelter on the second floor of her home, together with 70 neighbors and relatives.
“All along I thought we were in a safe place, but then the water came so fast and we heard a loud crack and the house collapsed in a few seconds. All of us were left to fend for ourselves.”
Fe’s village had been struck by a flash flood. In her struggle to fight the current, she lost her grip on her three children. Tragically, her second-child, just seven years old, was found dead a few days after the storm passed, and her two other children are still missing.
“I am still hoping to find my other two children alive, but as each day comes, that hope diminishes. It’s been two weeks, I wonder where they are,” says Fe.
The typhoon not only destroyed lives and homes, it caused massive damage on commercial plantations that employed thousands of people. The appeal will support the building of transitional shelters for 4,000 families who have lost their homes, and also provide livelihoods assistance. A further 15,000 families whose houses were damaged by Bopha will also be receiving shelter repair kits
“We plan to provide cash grants to Bopha survivors to help them recoup what they have lost. The process of recovery will take months if not years”, explains Selvaratnam Sinnadurai, the IFRC’s country representative in the Philippines.
Philippine Red Cross chapters in the worst affected provinces of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur, have been at the forefront of relief efforts – distributing food packages to 18,800 families and non-food items to 6,000 others. The emergency appeal will support further distributions of food, water storage containers and hygiene kits to 17,000 families
“We are encouraged by the response of our partners to our appeals for support and we are grateful for each donation because every single cent counts,” says Gwendolyn Pang, Secretary General of the Philippine Red Cross. “However, we require additional donations since the needs on the ground are so massive.”
Relief efforts by the organization are also supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other partners of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.