Visayans brace for typhoon one year after Haiyan

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    Dr. Christine P. Oriel

    Like a bad dream Visayans were again dealing with a potentially devastating typhoon a year after one of the most powerful typhoons wreaked havoc in the region.

    People, many of whom still have not recovered from Typhoon Haiyan, were hunkered down awaiting the landfall of Typhoon Ruby December 6.

    However, Ruby has not proved to be nearly as powerful as Haiyan, which knocked out power, flattened homes and killed more than 6,000 people.

    On December 7 the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council released an update on the situation. At that time the only casualties were a one-year old child and 65-year old man from Iloilo who died of hypthermia.

    A small number of roads were closed down because of flooding and landslides and widespread power outages were reported in Visayas, including in Tacloban and northern Samar.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by the typhoon, including those in the hardest hit city of Tacloban, where some people remain in temporary shelters and tents close to the sea.

    However, most of the debris has been cleared away and homes have been repaired and rebuilt in many areas.

    But with Typhoon Ruby continuing to pummel Visayas many people are praying that history does not repeat itself.

    Calgarian Connie Bassana says she is frightened for her four children, six grandchildren and extended family and in-laws who live in Visayas and are still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan.

    “It’s scary,” Bassana says.

    She replaced the roof on her home in Roxas City, where her children live, but left smashed windows in the kitchen unrepaired because of the expense. Her son covered the openings with bamboo to try to keep out the expected 220 kilometre per hour winds coming from Typhoon Ruby.

    Her other relatives who live in Jamul Awan Panay Capiz close to the sea are having an even harder time to recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

    “My own family is less than 50 percent recovered,” she says, adding she has several family members who have moved into one house.

    One of her brother-in-laws received 10,000 pesos to rebuild his home, which was totally destroyed.

    Bassana says she just hopes her loved ones will not be starting all over again when Typhoon Ruby is finished.

    “Life is so hard for them,” she laments.

    Canadians were instrumental in helping out in her hometown, says Bassana.

    “Canada stayed a long time in Roxas City,” she says. “There has been a lot of help.”

    Canadian Red Cross program manager for early recovery Sylvie Zangger travelled to the Philippines twice since Haiyan hit and says she will be back in January or February to again assess the situation.

    Red Cross workers have been closely watching the outcome of Typhoon Ruby as they continue to assist people recovering from Haiyan.

    “We have two delegates there in the Philippines and we are preparing to respond to Ruby,” Zangger says.

    Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers have been on the ground helping in the early days after Typhoon Haiyan to restore essential services and now working on a long-term recovery and future preparation plans.

    The Canadian contingency assisted the Orcon City hospital to get back on its feet by setting up a field hospital with tents in front of the medical centre, which had been 80 percent destroyed.

    Working with the medical staff and Philippine Red Cross volunteers and staff they were able to put up tents in the front courtyard of the hospital. The emergency field hospital has since been handed over to the Philippines Red Cross to use in future disasters.

    Now the Canadian Red Cross is halfway through a two-year recovery and future disaster preparation plan in the Philippines, Zangger says.

    The plan includes providing shelter for those that need it, rebuilding public infrastructure like schools and health facilities and providing support to people trying to rebuild their livelihoods.

    “So for example it could be providing seeds to farms or for fishermen boats,” Zangger explains.

    To see a video about the emergency field hospital set up in Orcon City visit: http://www.redcross.ca/who-we-are/redcross-stories/2014/typhoon-haiyan-one-year-one.

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