Families in the Philippines have been struck by their worst nightmare days before Christmas. On the forefront of providing support has been ShelterBox, Rotary’s global partner in disaster relief, working together with the Rotary Club of Cebu, Philippines.
Typhoon Rai, also known as Odette, has been said to have caused more damage than Typhoon Haiyan – the country’s deadliest typhoon to date.
The Typhoon’s gusts hit speeds of up to 240kmph, this is equivalent to a Category 5, hurricane causing mass devastation with 3.8 million people directly in the storm’s path.
Half a million families have been left homeless and many still searching for their loved ones only days before they should be celebrating Christmas.
People are stranded with a lack of communication or access to travel, worried for their families and friends. All made worse with telephone lines down and the terror covering the landscape.
Half a million families have been left homeless and many still searching for their loved ones only days before they should be celebrating Christmas.”
Disaster struck on 17th December. Weeks have passed and the circumstances are still dire for the families, many are still not reunited.
ShelterBox is one of few agencies to have a team locally, together with the Cebu Rotary they were first to act.
Alice Jefferson, Head of Emergency Response at ShelterBox has commented on the impact that has been caused on the country and its people.
She said “Super Typhoon Odette has brought catastrophic damage.
Our team in Cebu are safe and well but have told us of the extreme damage and their concerns for areas still cut off.
We’re well placed to help, but our help will be far outstripped by the extent of need that will emerge over the coming days.”
The ShelterBox teams have been distributing locally stored aid that consisted of shelter kits and other essential items.
The aid distributed so far has already helped more than 1,000 households with hopes to cover over 8,000 more in the coming days.
More than 800,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, leaving families with no safety or comfort, seeking any shelter they could find.
Almost 7 million people are suffering the repercussions of the disaster.
Cebu Rotary has been helping families by handing out shelter kits to allow the families some protection from the torrential volumes of rain, falling over the passing days.
Work is being made difficult for the volunteers as telephone lines are down, roads blocked by debris and fuel shortages across the country mean any form of travel is made even more challenging.
On the 2nd January, Cebu Rotarians travelled a 250 km (155 miles) round trip to deliver resources to the most impacted areas, Alegria and Malabuyoc.
The club has spoken about the impact of the typhoon and its efforts to provide the best support.
They said “These towns were selected from many as they were most hard to access by relief groups.
This was because of the distance from the City of Cebu and the blockage of roads.
It was disheartening to see so many homes completely washed out or blown off by the typhoon.”
A section of a coastal highway to Alegria was completely destroyed, as a result, an alternative route had to be taken through the mountainous area. Obstructed by toppled trees and low wires the journey to Alegria was successful.
The club distributed 2,000 food packs and 36,000 litres of drinking water in the two areas.
Two other Rotary-supported disaster aid charities also provided support during these difficult times in the Philippines.
Water Survival Box along with partners, International Medical Corps and Humanity First have used their previous experience of working in the Philippines to undertake some local assessments.
The club distributed 2,000 food packs and 36,000 litres of drinking water in the two areas.”
The three agencies have provided 400 boxes of clean drinking water where access is limited. Families are given the opportunity to have freshwater where the only alternative is dirty rainwater or water that is contaminated from sewage and debris.
In addition, Aquabox has launched a study to understand more about the impact of the typhoon and better understand how they can help. Together with Rotarians in Manilla, Aquabox is assessing the situation and preparing to help.
Feature image provided by the Rotary Club of Cebu and Shelterbox