Staff struggle to reach far-flung villages as roads, bridges washed away

Boxes of Relief Goods (MNS Photo)

Boxes of Relief Goods (MNS Photo)

MANILA –World Vision’s first relief flight loaded with critical emergency supplies will arrive in Manila Monday. The Lufthansa flight includes 5,000 blankets and 3,000 tarpaulins (plastic sheets) that will be used to help survivors build temporary shelters.

“Every minute counts in this response,” said Josaias Dela Cruz, World Vision’s National Director in the Philippines. “With the death toll rising and the extent of the damage still not fully known, we are doing everything we can to scale up as quickly as possible and begin bringing relief and hope to our country. This first shipment of emergency supplies will be tremendously helpful.”

As the death toll climbs and the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan is increasingly evident, World Vision is launching one of its largest relief operation in the country’s history, mobilizing staff across the country to respond to nearly 400,000 people affected by the disaster. World Vision has launched a multi-million dollar fundraising appeal to help meet the needs of the response.

The Government of the Philippines estimates that at least 4 million people have been affected by the typhoon, and there are reports that in one area alone, Tacloban, 10,000 people have died. The number of fatalities is likely to rise as communications channels are restored and access improves to impacted areas.

“The greatest challenge for us is still clearing the roads, restoring power and water supplies for many of the displaced families who are experiencing such hardship,” said Aaron Aspi, an Emergency Communications Officer with World Vision in Cebu, Philippines. “It’s us against the clock as we try to provide them with the necessary aid that they need.”
Three World Vision emergency assessment teams are traveling toward some of the worst-affected areas Sunday, including Bohol Province, Samar and Leyte Province, and Panay Island. Power outages plus the destruction of major roads, airports, and infrastructure have made it incredibly difficult to reach survivors to provide urgently-needed assistance and get a clearer picture of the total devastation. Teams are traveling by plane, boat, and motorbike to reach these villages as quickly as possible.

“When I arrived in Cebu last night, after traveling from Bohol, we discovered that our office here had been damaged from last month’s earthquake, and we had to find temporary shelter for our team,” continued Aspi. “We will head out as soon as we can as we’ve heard early reports that as much as 90% of northern Cebu has been destroyed.”

Right now, the most urgent needs are water and sanitation, food, temporary shelter, child protection and psychosocial support. Staff care is also a priority as many staff have been personally affected by this disaster and have been managing back-to-back disasters in the midst of one of the country’s busiest hurricane seasons.

Twenty of World Vision’s Area Development Programs (ADPs) in nine provinces are affected by this latest disaster, including Bohol which was hit by an earthquake last month as well.

In Vietnam, World Vision staff are preparing for the typhoon’s arrival. The storm is expected to bring 20-30 cm (8-11 inches) of rain to northern Vietnam, where several tropical storms have recently battered the region. Haiyan is now traveling along the coast of central Vietnam and is projected to make landfall in northern Vietnam on Monday. The increased rain also brings concerns of landslides and flooding. World Vision’s Area Development Programs (ADPs) in 18 districts sit squarely in the path of the storm.

Neighboring Laos is reporting little to no effects from Haiyan, but World Vision staff are closely monitoring the weather there.