Response efforts are underway after Super Typhoon Goni (local name Rolly) left a trail of extensive damage after sweeping across southern Luzon on 1 November. The Bicol Region bore the brunt of the typhoon’s violent winds and torrential rains, blowing away roofs, toppling structures and causing severe flooding and landslides. The strongest tropical cyclone this year made its first landfall as a super typhoon with maximum winds of 225 km/h in Bato, Catanduanes. Response teams are prioritizing access to the island province as getting information proved to be difficult with communication and electricity cut off. In a government press briefing today, the province’s governor reported via satellite phone that at least 10,000 houses were either destroyed or damaged while 11 towns remain inaccessible.
The typhoon then hit the town of Tiwi, causing rivers to overflow and flooding most parts of Albay province. The province is also home to the active Mayon Volcano, with lahar deposits on its slopes liquifying as mud flows and burying at least 300 houses in Guinobatan. Eleven people were reported killed in Catanduanes and Albay provinces from the onslaught of the typhoon. Numbers are expected to increase in the coming days.
Government and humanitarian teams are currently on the ground assessing the destruction. The Department of Agriculture reports that 16,900 hectares of land are damaged, affecting 18,000 farmers. Initial estimates place production losses at 66,600 metric tons of rice, corn and high-value crops, amounting to US$24 million in value. Goni made two other landfalls in Quezon and Batangas province, progressively weakening as it traversed the entire day and sparing the capital Metro Manila. All storm warning signals have been lifted as Goni left the landmass and entered the West Philippine Sea on Monday morning.
Compounding effects on COVID-19 and other health emergencies
Preparedness and response efforts are made complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Bicol region currently has 425 active COVID-19 cases per the latest Department of Health (DOH) data, the risk of transmission remains high, especially in typically crowded evacuation centres. DOH reminded local governments to deploy safety officers that will check sanitation and monitor COVID symptoms among the IDPs. The main COVID-19 laboratory is the Bicol region was also damaged, prompting the suspension of testing. At least 1,000 COVID-19 patients under quarantine in mega-treatment facilities around Metro Manila have been transferred to hospitals and hotels.
As government and humanitarian teams respond to the needs, the health department issued an advisory that humanitarian responders do not need to undergo PCR test. Responders may be deployed under the conditions that they have no symptoms and recent exposure to a COVID-19 case and have been cleared by a medical doctor.
The power interruptions in several areas could affect cold chain facilities used for the national immunization campaign. The successive typhoons also resulted in low coverage of the measles and polio campaign, which is being implemented in Regions IV-B and V until 26 November.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.