Farmers race to save crops as Typhoon Haima closes in

Published: 19 October 2016 16:19 CET

By MJ Evalarosa, IFRC

Alexis Balete, an 18-year-old farmer living in Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon, keeps one eye on the darkening sky as he harvests his rice crop. The wind is picking up, and like many farmers living in the area, he is trying to harvest as much rice as he can before Typhoon Haima makes landfall in the next few hours.

The rice field is located beside a river and was inundated by floods when heavy rains triggered by 2015’s Typhoon Koppu caused it to overflow.

“It’s not really harvest time yet, but we have to act fast,” says Alexis. “We are trying to avoid what happened last year. We were not able to harvest in time before Typhoon Koppu struck in 2015 and we lost all our crops.”

Alexis and his colleagues work hard throughout the day and are able to harvest 37 sacks of rice, which will be stored inside a warehouse until Haima passes.

According to the local weather bureau, Super Typhoon Haima is estimated to make landfall in the Cagayan area late Wednesday night as a Category 5 storm, bringing heavy rains and strong winds of up to 225 kph. Haima, which developed right after Typhoon Sarika exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility, could have significant humanitarian impact when it makes landfall on the island of Luzon. In 2015, Typhoon Koppu caused severe flooding that affected 1.2 million people and caused damage to an estimated 42,000 homes.  

The Philippine Red Cross has activated 40 chapters in Luzon to undertake preparedness measures, with Water Search and Rescue Teams, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and Health units, chapter staff and community (Red Cross 143) volunteers and other personnel on standby for possible deployment with rescue boats, amphibious vehicles and ambulances.

“Haima could be one of the most damaging typhoons so far this year, so we are doing our share of preparations in the Philippine Red Cross,” explains the Philippine Red Cross Chairman, Richard Gordon. “Our chapters in areas that will be or may be affected greatly by the typhoon are already on high alert. We have already activated all our volunteers, responders and rescuers and they are ready to provide humanitarian assistance any time.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting Philippine Red Cross with prepositioned emergency relief items, including tarpaulins and essential items like jerry cans, blankets, sleeping mats, hygiene kits and mosquito nets for at least 20,000 families. IFRC is also providing technical support and field staff, who are ready to support assessments and an emergency response if the need arises.