Philippines Typhoon 2014: Islanders Prepare for Storm
Renee Lambert is Catholic Relief Services' head of office in Tacloban, Philippines. This is her eyewitness account of preparations for Typhoon Hagupit (known locally as Typhoon Ruby).
At the moment, we have typhoon preparations happening on different fronts. Some of our staff living in vulnerable areas have been at home with their families since yesterday, December 4. They are focused on securing their belongings and relocating to evacuation centers on higher ground as Typhoon Hagupit approaches. Our staff who already have a safe place to go during the storm are working on operations.
It's a massive effort. We are wrapping bulky items in tarps, getting vehicles to higher ground, and raising things in our offices and warehouses off the ground.
Evacuation and Safety Precautions
Our Tacloban shelter team is working with the local government to evacuate people from coastal barangays (neighborhoods) and into evacuation centers on high ground.
We have 300 staff working in Leyte and Samar. They are doing well overall. Our top priority is ensuring their safety and the safety of their families.
Today (Friday, Dec. 5) many more storefronts are closed—almost all of them. The mall is closed. At this point, getting items involves having a connection to a shop owner. We can call the owner, and he or she will get last-minute things we need. We are blessed to have strong relationships with the community here.
Next Steps After Typhoon Passes
I'm also seeing a virtual parade of families on tricycles (motorcycles with additional seating) and pedicabs (bicycles with additional seating). They are all relocating by cycling up to higher ground. They have household goods hanging from their bikes, as well as many pairs of rubber boots. They know what to expect from their experience surviving Super Typhoon Haiyan.
After Typhoon Hagupit passes over the Philippines, CRS' next step will be to immediately send out assessment teams. Depending on what they find, we have several different response options planned. In a storm this unpredictable, we must have several contingencies.
Disaster Relief Experience: Floods and Landslides
Based on experience, the most immediate needs will likely be the basics: food, clean water and emergency shelter. We're also concerned about landslides: The storm is expected to move slowly, which means prolonged rains and flooding. We have to be ready for numerous possibilities.
On a personal level, I'm moving things away from windows at my home. I have a stockpile of water, canned tuna and rice for 5 days. I've set up a gas cooker for rice so we aren't stuck without a stove if the electricity goes out. I will host three of my colleagues who need a safe place to stay. We're already planning the games we will play during the storm to keep our spirits up.