The global Red Cross network is responding with help and support in the Philippines after Typhoon Rammasun stripped roofs, uprooted trees, and caused flash floods and mudslides as it tracking across some of the most populous areas of the country earlier this week.
Rammasun picked up speed once it struck the Philippines eastern seaboard on Tuesday, becoming a category 3 storm with winds of up to 125 per hour. Across the country 530,000 people were evacuated from their homes prior to the arrival of the typhoon. Authorities in the Visayan city of Tacloban, badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan last November, evacuated some 27,000 people.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies pre-positioned supplies of non-food relief items and hygiene kits for 20,000 families, as well as 10,000 tarpaulins in Tacloban.
An estimated 1 million people were affected as the typhoon passed through Bicol, Quezon, parts of the Visayas and the main island of Luzon, including Metro Manila, before sweeping out to sea towards China and Northern Viet Nam. According to government estimates, 7,000 homes were destroyed and a further 20,000 were damaged. Philippine Red Cross response teams were on high alert well before the typhoon arrived, with equipment including rescue trucks, amphibious vehicles and rubber boats readied for deployment. The Red Cross provided thousands of hot meals, food packs and non-food items to affected people in several provinces, while its emergency response teams helped in rescue efforts.
Once the storm passed, the Red Cross began conducting assessments in the worst affected regions. The focus now is on clearing debris left behind by the storm and providing water containers and non-food relief items. Water tankers have also been sent to areas without safe drinking water. The Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers to help in distribution efforts in densely populated coastal municipalities such as Taguig in Metro Manila, that are still without power and clean water.
“We’ve had positive feedback from our chapters that our disaster risk reduction training may have had a substantial effect on mitigating Rammasun’s impact. However, thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed,” she Gwen Pang, Secretary General of the Philippine Red Cross.
The Philippines were hit in November by Typhoon Haiyan, and the American Red Cross continues to support recovery efforts from that typhoon such as partnering with the German and Spanish Red Cross societies to make homes in the affected areas more storm resistant, provide access to clean water and sanitation facilities, provide cash grants to help people with their recovery and rebuilding efforts and prepare communities for future disasters.