Emergency relief backgrounder: Typhoon Haiyan
November 11, 2013 by The IRC
|Typhoon Haiyan cut an enormous swath of destruction through the Philippines, affecting more than 9.5 million people. IRC|
The devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan is a humanitarian catastrophe. The International Rescue Committee is on the ground in the Philippines mobilizing an emergency response. Our emergency team shares this backgrounder on the staggeringly powerful storm and the IRC's plans to help meet survivors' urgent needs:
One of the strongest-ever recorded storms to make landfall, with sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts of 230 mph, "super typhoon" Haiyan hit the Philippines on the morning of November 8. The storm initially struck a fishing village in Eastern Samer before traveling across Leyte, Cebu and Visayas islands. Six regions of the country have been affected.
Slicing through the center of the 7,107 island archipelago, the typhoon’s path is estimated to have affected more than 9.5 million people. That number is likely to rise as reports continue to trickle in, particularly considering the 28 million people living in the storm’s path.
Photos show entire communities washed away, buildings turned to rubble and roads and bridges destroyed. More than 90% of structures in some of the frontline coastal areas have been entirely demolished. While reports and photos so far have been devastating, many of the worst hit areas have yet to be assessed while access remains difficult and communication systems are still down.
Limited access to many regions of the country have made calculating death tolls a challenge, but estimates as of Monday morning put the number of casualties at more than 100,000. Nearly a tenth of those have been attributed to Tacloban, the capital of the Philippine province of Leyte, one of the first in the string of locations struck by the storm.
The devastation has displaced hundreds of thousands and left many in dire need of food, medical assistance and shelter. The storm has destroyed basic water and sanitation infrastructure, ensuing a significant public health risk. The IRC emergency team first will focus on immediate needs to save lives: health care, clean water and sanitation.
Along with homes and infrastructure, people's incomes have also been wiped out by the storm. The IRC is looking at creating cash for work programs to help rebuild in the Philippines in the wake of Haiyan and provide storm survivors with a source of income.
"It's very easy for people to lose hope in a desperate situation," IRC emergency response director Bob Kitchen said today in an interview with the BBC. "We are here to stop that."