Philippine Red Cross emergency teams deploy in the wake of Typhoon Nock-Ten

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By Patrick Fuller, IFRC

Philippine Red Cross disaster response teams are assessing the humanitarian impact of Typhoon Nock-Ten, also known as Nina, which swept across the central region of the Philippines over the Christmas period. The Category 4 typhoon first made landfall in Bato, Catanduanes late on December 25th bringing with it high winds and heavy rains. It then spent two days tracking northwest across the country before heading west into the South China Sea on 27 December.

Over 400,000 people were displaced from their homes across 18 provinces. They sought shelter in temporary evacuations centres such as schools and public buildings. Volunteers from Philippine Red Cross Chapters in Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Masbate, San Pablo and Batangas have provided over 3,000 cooked meals to evacuees.

Red Cross rapid assessment teams including drone operators have deployed to areas where Nock-Ten made successive landfalls, including Catanduanes, Albay and Camarines Sur. Damage reports are now starting to come in as the teams move out into rural areas. Access to some areas however, remains restricted. Fallen trees and several landslides have made many roads impassable and communications in some areas have been severed due to downed electricity posts.

“Initial reports indicate wind and flood damage to homes, infrastructure and agriculture,” said Patrick Elliott, Operations Manager with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Philippines. “We expect a Typhoon of this strength to cause significant damage to lightweight structures and our teams on the ground have seen plenty of homes with their roofs ripped off as well as damage to banana plantations and stripped coconut trees. In the coming days we expect to have a more accurate picture of the situation as we reach more remote areas”.

The typhoon had been forecast to bring severe weather and flooding to the Metro Manila region, but the Philippine capital was spared the worst as the storm weakened and moved slightly south.

Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Richard Gordon, expressed concern for other parts of the country that have fared worse.

“Although it was only drizzling in Manila, it's a different story for the Bicol region and other parts of our country,” explained Mr. Gordon. “It’s likely that this typhoon devastated a wider area than we imagined. It is important to remember that in recent months, the country has been struck by four major typhoons and it is often the same people who get hit each time by these storms. They become increasingly vulnerable and need extra support to recover.”

The Philippine Red Cross has released Emergency Relief Funds for its chapters in the affected provinces and the IFRC is preparing to release funds from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund which will support the emergency response operation of the Philippine Red Cross. This will include the distribution of non-food relief items such as tarpaulins, mosquito nets, water containers, blankets and personal hygiene items. The Philippine Red Cross will continue to care for evacuees ensuring they have medical care and access to clean water where needed. Families that have suffered major losses such as damage to their homes and livelihoods, will receive cash grants to help them cover their household costs and make repairs to their homes.