Picking up the pieces after Typhoon Hagupit leaves the Philippines

تم النشر: 10 ديسمبر 2014 12:41 CET

By Nichola Jones, IFRC

As Typhoon Hagupit finally exits the Philippines, a picture of the main needs on the ground is emerging.

Overall, damage appears to be moderate, but in areas such as Masbate, Samar and Leyte there is a need for food, water and emergency shelter. The rain accompanying Hagupit brought significant flooding and some landslides – damaging infrastructure, crops and livelihoods.

Close to the track of the storm where it made landfall on Eastern Samar, unofficial government figures estimate that between 10,000-20,000 homes made from local lightweight materials could be damaged or destroyed.

Head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Philippines, Kari Isomaa, said: “It will be several days before we know the true extent of Hagupit’s impact, but the Red Cross is providing emergency supplies to those hardest hit.”

On Tuesday morning over one million people remained in more than 5,000 evacuation centers. Many have returned home but some will remain longer where their houses are flooded or damaged. The Philippine Red Cross has been providing hot meals to hundreds of families in evacuation centres and has hundreds of volunteers working across the affected areas. Relief supplies and equipment including a water tanker, rescue vehicles, an ambulance and vans to provide hot meals have been sent to Samar along with a specially trained emergency crew. The IFRC has provided the Philippine Red Cross with non-food relief items for 10,000 families including hygiene kits, tarpaulins, mosquito nets and jerry cans.

In Tacloban in Leyte Province, which was ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan last year, there have been reports of some damage to buildings but the Red Cross’s 700 newly built houses have weathered their first typhoon well. Community leader Tarcisio Gernale, in Dagami near Tacloban, said: “When we heard the typhoon was coming we knew our new homes were the safest place to be.”

In Quezon province, tens of thousands of people spent up to three days in 452 evacuation centres, but almost all have now returned to their homes. 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.”

By the time it reached Metro Manila on Monday, Typhoon Hagupit had slowed to a crawl and brought only light rain to most areas. Although the capital escaped unscathed, tens of thousands of people – mostly from poor districts in low-lying areas – were evacuated up to three days before as a precautionary measure. At a Manila evacuation centre on Tuesday, numbers had started to dwindle from a peak of about 100 families the previous night.

Philippine Red Cross provided hot meals, First Aid and medical attention, with milk and biscuits for the children. Volunteers keep them amused with fun games mixed with hygiene promotion activities.

Mary Ann Garcia’s family lives near the school and decided to evacuate after warnings from barangay officials. All too familiar with flooding in their area, Mary Ann, 23, had evacuated the previous night together with her four children. “It is fortunate we weren’t flooded and we only had to stay for one night,” she said.