Flood fears mount as Typhoon Hagupit hits the Philippines

تم النشر: 7 ديسمبر 2014 15:42 CET

Typhoon Hagupit began its painful path across central  Philippines on Saturday,  lashing areas along the eastern coast.

The most powerful storm in the world this year made landfall in Eastern Samar early on Saturday dumping up to 395mm of rain in some areas and ripping roofs from makeshift shelters rebuilt after  super typhoon Haiyan a year ago.

Despite packing wind speeds of up to 200kph, the storm itself is moving slowly at just 14kph – meaning it will take three days to pass through the country completely, while dumping dangerous  amounts of rain.

Speaking from  Palo – one of the areas ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan last year, Luzi Pido told of how she fled to her sister’s house with six other families to wait out the worst while Hagupit passed.

“We were  so worried because the wind  was very strong and the rain was very heavy,” she said.

“We were 60 people in that house and worried we might not have enough food to last the storm.”

Head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Philippines, Kari Isomaa, said full assessments of the impact so far will be carried out in the coming days.

“We are in the early stages of assessing the damage but in Tacloban City, which bore the brunt of last year’s super typhoon,  we know some families will need emergency shelter supplies to repair their homes,” he said.

“Our main concern now is flooding. Hagupits slow progress across the country is extremely dangerous with landslides and flash-flooding a real possibility in the areas yet to be hit.”

The IFRC and Philippine Red Cross has emergency supplies including jerry cans, tarpaulins, kitchen sets and hygiene kits for up to 50,000 families.  PRC also has food packs – enough to feed a family for three days – for 25,000 families and has been providing hot meals for evacuees.

Although damage levels are expected to be relatively low in Samar and Leyte, millions of people still face an agonising wait for Hagupit's onslaught as it makes its way westwards.

Alfie Martinez, 38, from Lucena in Quezon province is among those bracing themselves for the storm’s impact.

 “The waiting is the scary part for us – we cannot relax until we know it has gone and that our houses and our families are safe.”

The Philippine Red Cross has 430 volunteers on red alert in the areas expected to affected in the coming hours and days as well as medics and water and sanitation teams.  In Lucena, a search and rescue boat, ambulance, mobile clinic and two emergency field teams are ready to go should water levels rise overnight.