The following is a statement from Episcopal Relief & Development:
Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby is slowly moving through the Philippines after making landfall in Dolores, Eastern Samar, on the night of December 6 and Cataingan, Masbate Province, on the morning of December 7.
The typhoon has weakened to a tropical storm, reducing the likelihood of wind damage, though heavy rains may continue to cause flash flooding and landslides. Fast-moving flood water is the reported cause of 16 deaths in Samar; the total death toll as of December 8 stands at 22.
Many of the approximately 1 million people who evacuated to emergency shelters are returning home. However, an estimated 1,500 dwellings were destroyed by the storm, and power is out in 17 provinces across the Viyasas and Luzon.
In Tacloban, which was severely hit by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in December 2013, E-CARE staff surveyed the surrounding area and reported widespread crop damage. In an area just beginning to recover from the previous storm, the physical and economic impact of this storm will be hard felt, particularly for farmers who had not yet harvested their rice crops. In order to facilitate clean-up and restore communications, the E-CARE team installed three solar-powered lighting and charging stations in strategic areas. The E-CARE office itself is also solar-powered, enabling it to serve as a hub for coordination.
“Our partners in the Philippines have extensive experience dealing with seasonal severe weather, with Yolanda last year and others before that,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development. “They have built excellent staff capacity to manage large-scale response efforts, and because their disaster preparedness and relief activities rely on community leadership and involvement, they have strong networks that can be mobilized for both immediate assistance and long-term rehabilitation.”
Nesiah reported that more assessment visits are planned for the week of December 8, as travel possibilities widen following the cleanup of debris. E-CARE staff expect that their pre-positioned relief supplies will be much needed.
Please continue to pray for all who have been affected by the storm or are in its path, and for first responders who are caring for and ensuring the safety of people in impacted communities.