MANILA—A woman named Belinda sought shelter under her kitchen table. She and her family huddled together as winds from Typhoon Haiyan battered their home in the Philippines. They prayed they would survive. They did, but the gales tore off their roof.
“I will never forget Nov. 7, I will never forget the typhoon!” she told visiting volunteer workers. “I will always remember that day and will take the feeling of fear to the grave with me.” Haiyan was a category five storm, possessing winds of up to 235 miles per hour, killing more than 6,000 people and rendering 200,000 people homeless of the 4.1 million who were displaced.
Since Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, Canadian Global Response partners continue to help with existing projects on affected islands, including rebuilding schools and homes, helping locals like Belinda repair their homes. Typhoon Hagupit, or ‘Ruby,’ as it is known locally, made landfall Saturday evening. This slow moving, category three hurricane is expected to strike six Philippines islands before it moves out to sea tomorrow, on December 16.
As many as 48 million people live in the path of the typhoon. Ahead of the storm, up to 1 million evacuated to shelters – including a school building on Gibitngil island rebuilt by CGR partners earlier this year. This island situated just north of Cebu, where the effects of the storm would be felt much more intensely than on the mainland. Cell phone lines are down in some areas, including Eastern Samar, a province bordering Tacloban.
The storm is expected to weaken further as it moves over the islands, yet there are already lives lost as assessment teams continue to gather information. In the city of Tacloban, hardest-hit by last year’s storm, 48,000 people were moved to shelters ahead of Typhoon Hagupit’s arrival. Leaders of partnering CGR teams will soon travel to the city to begin damage assessments and connect with others, who say the storm damage is much less than that caused by last year’s typhoon.
The disaster has renewed a sense of urgency for volunteers to participate in the rebuilding process. With locals still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation last year and now from Hagupit, fourteen Albertan CGR volunteers have already started to prepare themselves to spend two weeks in Tacloban to help rebuild in February 2015.
Thank you for your willingness to help respond to Typhoon Hagupit. More information will be made available once the situation stabilizes. Anyone wishing to respond can help by donating to CGR’s Hagupit Typhoon fund through the donation button below, or selecting other giving options on our donation page.
Further information about the crisis and humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines will be made available as soon as possible.
Picture: IOM, December 8, 2014, CC licence.