Philippines – IOM teams are conducting assessments of the areas affected by Typhoon Rammasun (known locally as Glenda), a Category 3 storm that made landfall in the Philippines three times earlier this week, prompting the evacuation of over 500,000 people and claiming at least 40 lives.
The assessments are being conducted in close coordination with local government units, at the request of the Philippines’ Department for Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Initial findings from the worst affected province, Albay in Bicol, found that 42,000 houses are heavily damaged or destroyed. IOM is ready to support the Government in the construction of stronger houses once needs are confirmed.
In Laguna, close to Metro Manila, 13,000 houses were destroyed or in need of repair and in Northern Samar, where around 14,000 families were affected, distributions of tarpaulins and essential relief items are underway.
Rammasun is the first typhoon to hit the country since the devastating super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda last November.
Although the Haiyan-affected regions of the Visayas were spared a direct hit by Rammasun, heavy wind and rain caused widespread flooding. In Tacloban, over 1,000 families, the majority of whom are still living in tents, were pre-emptively evacuated by the city government with the support of IOM and other humanitarian partners. Days before Rammasun struck, an evacuation drill, organized by IOM and the city government, was undertaken.
Despite the success of the pre-emptive measures, the lack of safe evacuation centres – initially reported by IOM in April – remains a key concern, especially in the Haiyan affected region.
“The primary evacuation centre in Tacloban [the Tacloban City Convention Centre, or Astrodome] has a damaged roof which leaks, and is located right by the coast. What is available in Guiuan is even bleaker – a half-finished building with open sides, and three small classrooms in a school,” explained Brad Mellicker, head of IOM’s sub-office in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where only eight per cent of designated evacuation centres are still standing.
IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Philippines Marco Boasso commented: “Our teams worked flat out to get vulnerable people to safety ahead of typhoon Rammasun. But this is just the start of the typhoon season and there may be much stronger storms to come. Our disaster preparedness precautions will be fruitless, without more efforts focused on building durable, safe evacuation centres.”
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