International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Emergency relief backgrounder: Typhoon Haiyan

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."

Stay Informed: Get Twitter updates from IRC aid workers and others responding to Typhoon Haiyan » 

Donate Now: Donate now to support families devastated by Typhoon Haiyan »




For the sake of many,, I live

For the sake of many,, I live in Fla. got lots of storm and shelter exp. from past helping RED CROSS, Now These people needing so desparately... What can I do to help?? Money? what? My thoughts and prayers are with ........

Dear Debra: We are very

Dear Debra:

We are very grateful for your generosity in offering support for survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

The IRC does not send volunteers to our overseas programs, even in emergencies. However, as you noted, money is desperately needed for this emergency and it is absolutely the best way to help. This video, created by our partners at InterAction, explains why:

To donate to the IRC's emergency response in the Philippines please visit

If you have further questions, don't hesitate to contact us at

Many thanks again,

All of us at the IRC 

I made a donation to your

I made a donation to your organization 2 days ago to aid relief efforts from the typhoon in the Plillipines. I understand that efforts to deliver essential supplies, clean drinking water, food, shelter have been hampered by destruction of roads and access to areas of need. Your update states that you hope to have supplies delivered to the people by Friday which may be too late for many of the inhabitants. I don't understand why supplies wouldn't be able to be dropped from helicopters as I see that the US military has gained access by plane Every day's delay means that more people will likely sicken and die as a result. I'm trying to see why there hasn't been a more timely response to this disaster in a more organized manner. Do the many agencies collecting monies work together to coordinate efforts? I understand that funds will also be needed in the days ahead but it is disheartening and frustrating to see such suffering in a life and death situation when some relief is needed now. What exactly are the reasons aid cannot be delivered sooner than 5 days after the event? Thank you for any updates and answers you may be able to provide to this donor and concerned person. Thank you for your efforts already underway. Sincerely, Judith Petree

Dear Judith: Our very great

Dear Judith:

Our very great thanks for your generous support of the IRC's typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines.

You might find this opinion piece by IRC emergency response director Bob Kitchen, published on, of interest. It speaks to questions you have raised in your comment.

Why typhoon response taking so long

Don't hesitate to contact us should you have further questions at

Thank you again,

All of us at the IRC


Its realy painful to see

Its realy painful to see people suffer from lack of baics needs but when you find there is some one ready to respond lt will revived your hopes. Abaker Mohamed Adam Nyala, Southdarfur, Sudan

Dear Abaker: Thank you very

Dear Abaker:

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us,


All of us at the IRC 



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