Philippines Typhoon Response a Triumph for Disaster Preparedness
Philippines - Fears of a typhoon-induced humanitarian disaster in the Philippines have been dispelled due to a combination of a weaker-than-expected typhoon and a mass evacuation of some 1.2 million people.
The alarm was raised when Typhoon Hagupit briefly turned into a super-typhoon last Friday (5/12) and appeared on course to rip into the central Visayas region. This was the area devastated by last year’s super typhoon Haiyan, which left over 6,300 dead and a trail of destruction in its wake.
The typhoon made landfall just north of the area that took the brunt of Haiyan, where local sources say 21 people have died. It was subsequently downgraded to typhoon status, and then to tropical storm level, as it hit the capital Manila on Monday night, where residents in flood-prone areas were urged to evacuate.
IOM responded by readying teams from hubs in Guiuan, Tacloban, Cebu, Ormoc and Roxas, and from its Manila hub. Most reported that the mass evacuations were a huge success, with very little loss of life, even though many houses were damaged or destroyed.
Dolores city, Northern Samar, took a direct hit from the 200 km per hour winds, and there were still some concerns last night for the 23 barangays (districts), with an estimated total population of 20,000, which had still not reported in. IOM teams that reached Dolores on Monday reported heavy damage, but – in the spirit of resilience which has characterised typhoon response in this country – Filipinos were already out repairing their homes and some local businesses were already open.