Staff and Supplies Pre-Positioned for Typhoon Bopha
MANILA (1200h GMT) – The international children’s organisation Plan has sent staff and emergency relief supplies into areas likely to take a direct hit by a powerful late season typhoon on Tuesday.
Typhoon Bopha – known locally as Pablo – is expected to make landfall in the southern Philippines on the island of Mindanao – the second largest island in the country – with sustained winds in excess of 175kph (115 mph) and gusts of 210kph (130mph). Rainfall is expected to be up to 30mm (1.2 inches) per hour.
The people in Mindanao are still recovering from the super typhoon Sendong which left 1,245 dead and more than US$47 million in damage. It struck 12 days short of a year ago.
PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) officials have said that the impact could be worse than Sendong.
Plan Philippines Country Director Carin van der Hor said several teams of emergency response specialists and supplies are on standby in the Visayas and two others are on standby to deploy from Manila. The teams include specialists in WASH, health, child protection, communications and disaster risk reduction.
Relief supplies that are pre-positioned include 2,500 water kits (jerrycans and water purification drops) and 2,500 hygiene kits (1 kit serves a family of five), and 2,500 tarpaulins.
Van der Hor said that mainly rural settlements are in the path of the typhoon however the biggest concern is rainfall.
“The rain band is 775 km wide and we expect rainfall to cause massive landslides and flooding. If we just look at the rain band, then there are 62 million people who are potentially going to be affected by this. The government and international humanitarian aid agencies are most concerned for areas that previously were not in the typhoon belt, as their level of preparedness is significantly lower than areas like the Visayas for instance, where the communities are used to typhoons.
“Areas that previously would not see many typhoons and that are now in Pablo’s path are Bohol, Palawan and some of the outlying islands north of Mindanao. Those islands are also very hard to reach.
“The best case scenario is that there will be material damage only. The worst case scenario is that some communities are unprepared or unwilling to evacuate pre-emptively, leading to significant numbers of casualties. From a children’s perspective, we are very worried that schools will be used as evacuation centers and that children’s education will be significantly disrupted.
“Plan Philippines is ready to respond in case there is a need. We have more than five years of disaster response experience in the country, and our response is focused on education in emergencies and child protection in emergencies. Our first response will focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), if needed.
“We know from previous emergencies that WASH activities are needed to stave off any secondary emergency such as waterborne diseases.”
On an average 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, with two or three of them devastating. Typhoon Bopha is the 16th to enter the country this year.
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