First Person

Oxfam reporting typhoon devastation in Philippines

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A man stands atop debris as residents salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines. Photo by Erik de Castro / Reuters.

We are receiving early reports from Oxfam staff in the Philippines assessing the extent of the damage from typhoon Haiyan (they call it “Yolanda” in the Philippines), and are now ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected.

One of the affected areas is northern-most tip of Cebu. “The scene is one of utter devastation. There is no electricity in the entire area and no water. Local emergency food stocks have been distributed but stocks are dwindling. The immediate need is water, both for drinking and cleaning,” said Tata Abella-Bolo, a member Oxfam’s emergency team in Cebu.

Our staff in Cebu are reporting that in the area around Daanbantayan “nearly all the houses and buildings were damaged, power lines down and no electricity in the entire municipality. The team spoke of seeing children begging for help, holding up signs that read, ‘Help. We need water, food and medicines.’ Roads to the area were hardly passable with trees and wreckage of houses lining the highway.”

The report goes on to say: “Local officials said 98 per cent of the houses and structures in the municipality were damaged. This included the town hall and a cultural center which served as an evacuation center but …[it] had to be evacuated due to level of damage.”

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance is estimating that across the Philippines there are about 4.3 million people affected by the typhoon in 36 provinces, and that there are more than 330,900 people in 1,223 evacuation centers; 11,200 people are staying with host communities. OCHA’s latest report does not specify the number of dead from this storm except to say that at least 100 were killed in Tacloban City.

As the assessment continues, Oxfam is developing its plans to respond in Cebu and other areas.

Now heading for Vietnam

Oxfam staff in Vietnam reported that the country is bracing for the typhoon, the 14th to affect Vietnam this year. The main risks are “flooding, flash floods, and landslides due to heavy rains, storm surge, and extreme winds in coastal and mountainous provinces from Da Nang to Quang Ninh provinces,” according to messages we are seeing from our colleagues sent out last night just before the storm hit.

The report further stated that the government of Vietnam was implementing “evacuation plans for some 880,000 people in 11 coastal Central and Northern provinces to safer areas in preparation for the typhoon. Vietnam National TV this morning confirmed that a total of 496,000 people have been evacuated to date.”

Donate to the Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Recovery Fund: Oxfam teams are assessing the extent of the damage now and are ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected. We urgently need your help to scale up our response. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+