MANILA, Philippines, Nov. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - As Typhoon Haiyan sweeps through the Philippines bringing destruction in its wake, World Vision is joining with the government in rapid assessment and response teams.
Typhoon Haiyan, considered one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, made landfall in the Philippines early on November 8, sweeping the central Visayas island group. With maximum sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph), the typhoon lashed Eastern Samar, Leyte, the Panay Islands, Cebu and the quake-stricken Bohol.
"The impact has been tremendous. It's reported to be the biggest typhoon of the year, and it is," said Gjeff Lamigo, World Vision communications manager in Manila.
Images of houses damaged, large trees uprooted, and swelling waves caused by storm surges towering as high as 16 feet have occupied international and local headlines.
An estimated 25 million people are affected in Visayas and Luzon alone. Many have been displaced, especially in Bohol, where about 5,000 families remain temporarily sheltered in make-shift tents following the recent quake.
Quake-affected families at the mercy of the storm
Food, clean water, and emergency shelter are the greatest needs at more than 100 evacuation centres.
"Families are displaced and living in cramped conditions tonight (Friday)," says Aaron Aspi, a World Vision emergency communications specialist.
"Here in Bohol, the area hardest hit during the quake last month, people are still afraid to go inside buildings. Despite urging by the government to go into evacuation centres, they are staying outside in makeshift structures and tents."
"They are exposed to extreme weather, which can lead to coughing, colds, and respiratory infections."
Extent of damage and loss still unknown
Massive communication and power outages across the provinces have made it difficult to determine the full extent of the typhoon's damage. Among the areas affected are locations of 18 long-term community development programs where World Vision assists 34,460 registered children.
"We're still trying to reach our colleagues in eastern Visayas where the typhoon made landfall. But it's been a challenge for the past 12 hours. There's been a total breakdown in communications. In fact, we haven't heard from some of our colleagues since this morning; it's a total communications black hole," Lamigo said.
"Because of this [communications breakdown] it's a bit slow to get a full understanding of the extent of the damage. We're hoping for the best, but we have yet to find out."
Massive response begins
World Vision is mustering resources to assist 1.2 million people (240,000 families) with food, non-food items, hygiene kits, emergency shelter, and protection, especially for children and women. The Philippines World Vision office has committed its total effort for the next three weeks to carry out its largest emergency response to date.
SOURCE: World Vision Canada
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