International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Relief and resilience in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan

On Friday, Nov. 8, the most powerful storm ever recorded made landfall in the Philippines. By Sunday, as the scale and severity of the disaster became apparent, an International Rescue Committee emergency response team was en route to the archipelago to swiftly identify survivors’ urgent needs and provide humanitarian assistance.

Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda, as it is known locally) ravaged the coastal town of Guiuan in the eastern Philippines before tearing northwest through 36 provinces. This “super typhoon” brought with it heavy rain, winds that approached 150 miles per hour, and storm surges nearly 20 feet high. It devastated homes, roads, airports, seaports, water supplies and power lines — and left in its wake severe shortages in potable water, food stocks and medical supplies. 

Haiyan’s true death toll is unknown, as some areas have not been heard from since the storm hit. However, the latest estimates put the number of deaths at 3,900, with nearly 13 million people in all affected by the storm — including over 4 million displaced from their homes. 

The IRC is focusing our emergency response on three severely affected areas in the Western Visayas region that have received very little relief: Capiz, Iloilo, and northern Cebu. We are working to meet urgent needs for water and sanitation; shelter; and protection for those most vulnerable in the wake of a disaster, including women, children and the elderly. We’re also looking at creating livelihoods opportunities that will enable survivors to earn cash to help them rebuild their homes and their lives. 

A child stands amid the ruins of Typhoon Haiyan
The IRC is working to provide protection for those most vulnerable in the wake of the disaster, including children, women and the elderly. Photo: Tyler Jump/IRC

This week in Capiz and Iloilo we are delivering jerry cans for collecting clean drinking water to 5,000 people, along with 5,000 emergency kits for women that include spare clothes, sandals, a bucket and soap, and other essentials. We’ve joined forces with two local nonprofit organizations, Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the Ramona Aboitiz Foundation (RAMI), to ensure our relief efforts have the strongest immediate impact.

The monster storm overwhelmed even the impressive preparedness efforts of the Philippines government and local aid groups. As first responders from the Philippines and around the world struggle to bring relief to millions of displaced Filipinos, the IRC has mobilized our seasoned emergency response team to aid communities that might otherwise have to wait weeks for life saving relief – if they receive any relief at all. 

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