Media CenterCRS Responding to Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines
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Catholic Relief Services
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CRS is providing emergency relief in the aftermath of the storm
BALTIMORE, MD, September 18, 2018 – Days after Super Typhoon Mangkhut tore through the northern island of Luzon in the Philippines, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is responding to the storm’s aftermath with water purification kits, shelter kits and cash assistance as nearly 600,000 people are coping with the loss of homes, jobs, and access to goods and services.
“Our teams have been on the ground conducting assessments since Sunday. As of today, we have begun sending water purification and storage kits to the field, and will follow in short order with cash assistance for urgent needs and shelter kits for families whose homes were destroyed,” said Matt McGarry, CRS’ country representative for the Philippines.
According to CRS staff on the ground, people are in urgent need of shelter, food, clean water and hygiene supplies, which CRS and Caritas Philippines (NASSA) have pre-positioned outside Manila. In addition, CRS is ready to activate a system to get much-needed cash in the hands of families.
But while the agency’s immediate focus is on rescue efforts and immediate aid, CRS is prepared to help families recover. Nearly 1.6 million farmers and fishermen/fisherwomen were affected by the storm; helping them weather this shock and rebuild their incomes is a top priority. Between 80-90% of rice and corn crops in the area were destroyed, not only jeopardizing food supplies, but also devastating farmers who live close to the poverty line and who were counting on their upcoming harvest.
CRS’ emergency teams are in Benguet and Cagayan provinces, two of the hardest-hit areas. As a result of the storm, a landslide in Benguet buried a bunkhouse where miners and their families sought shelter. In addition, smaller landslides damaged and destroyed homes and buildings in surrounding areas. Many isolated communities remain cut off by landslides and washed out bridges. Some areas are only accessible on foot. As emergency teams push further into the mountains, they expect to find more homes and farms destroyed by the storm.
Aprilynn Villamar, an emergency program officer with CRS, reported from Itogon, "We are having difficulty reaching distant barangays (villages) because of boulders, debris and landslides along the roads. The soil is still saturated and unsettled and we are concerned about additional landslides. Some families in evacuation centers are not sure where they will go or how they will rebuild their houses. There are evacuees who are showing signs of shock. This is the most devastating thing they've ever experienced."
CRS has invested in disaster risk-reduction and preparedness activities that help communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters like this one, saving lives in the process. In partnership with Caritas Philippines, and with support from Caritas Australia, CRS has carried out preparedness projects in northern Luzon for the last three years.
For updates on the response to Typhoon Mangkhut, go to https://www.crs.org/press-room.
*If you would like to schedule an interview with a CRS spokesperson, please contact Nikki Gamer at [email protected]. Spokespeople in Cagayan and Benguet will be available by phone until 11:00 am EST. Otherwise, US-based spokespeople will be available until Asia comes back online later today.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.