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Aid sent to Philippines after second typhoon

12 December 2014


Laying down in peace: a man rests inside a church after residents evacuated their homes because of Typhoon Hagupit, in Tacloban city, central Philippines, last Friday

Laying down in peace: a man rests inside a church after residents evacuated their homes because of Typhoon Hagupit, in Tacloban city, central Philip...

FILIPINO communities devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last year are cautiously hoping that they have successfully weathered the most recent storm, Hagupit, which hit the Philippines on Monday.

About 21 people are thought to have died in the typhoon, but hundreds of thousands were evacuated from coastal areas in advance of the storm's making landfall. None the less, Typhoon Hagupit destroyed thousands of homes and tore down power lines, sometimes in areas still struggling to rebuild after Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.

Cecil Laguardia, a communications manager with World Vision, in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of Haiyan last year, said that the immediate needs for survivors were food, water, and materials for making shelters, such as tarpaulins and nails.

World Vision had already distributed aid to 500 families in Tacloban, Ms Laguardia said, but more assessments were taking place all the time. "It was not as big as Haiyan, but the trauma among the people is still raw - it made them relive the terrors of Haiyan," she said.

"The people learned their lesson well this time. They went to the camps early after the government issued a warning, and co- operated well. In Tacloban, they were quite organised and prepared, bringing their own food and not waiting to be reminded again."

A senior emergency officer for CAFOD, Joseph Chacko, said that churches were playing a central part in helping people after the storm. "In areas where Haiyan hit last year, we have aid stocks ready. The aid stocks are made up of dry food to last around two days, bottled water, plastic sheeting, and blankets. It is basic, but in the first 48 hours after the storm, it's vital for people's survival."

Even though Typhoon Hagupit was weaker than Haiyan, Ms Laguardia said that some Filipinos were still struggling to cope. "I met Joy Manado, aged 47, a mother of one, when we visited one evacuation camp a day before Hagupit landed in Tacloban. "She felt traumatised that another typhoon as strong is coming. As early as two days before the typhoon was expected to hit the city, Joy already brought her son to the camp for safety. She said she is no longer taking chances. It was a heartbreaking conversation."

Mrs Manado's husband is a fisherman; so the high tides left behind by Hagupit have also robbed the family of their income, as he cannot go out to sea yet.

The storm will also set back efforts to recover from Super Typhoon Haiyan, Ms Laguardia said. Some of the projects set up to create jobs and livelihoods for Haiyan survivors were destroyed by Hagupit, and it will take time before they can be restarted. Furthermore, Tacloban is still without power more than a week after the storm, which is making moving around the city at night very hard.

"I cannot even begin to imagine how it felt for these survivors, going from one super typhoon to another," Ms Laguardia said. "But the Filipinos' positive spirit and resilience keep them going. One woman said that, despite losing everything and anticipating a very sad Christmas, she is still thankful that all of her family are alive."

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