8 December, 2014 - Plan on the ground and responding to major Philippines typhoon

Plan staff are available for updates, grabs and interviews, etc. Australian Richard Sandison, Disaster Response Manager, is on the ground in Tacloban, while Carin van der Hor, Country Director, is available in Manila. Please ring Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange interviews or for any further information.
Photos from Plan staff on the ground are available here: bit.ly/hagupitplan Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’

Plan International is assessing and responding to the impact of the weekend’s powerful typhoon, even as it continues to barrel down central Philippines. The slow-moving storm at 15 km/h remains highly threatening to millions despite its reduced wind strength of 140 km/h, according to latest state weather forecasts.

Typhoon Hagupit made its first landfall in the town of Dolores, Eastern Samar province on Saturday at 9:15 PM (12.15AM AEDT). Its second landfall was recorded 11 AM Sunday (2PM AEDT) in Cataingan, Masbate province and is now heading west-northwest towards the provinces of Romblon and Mindoro.

“Our staff are highly trained and experienced in emergency response. We already have prepositioned relief items in the affected areas. These include 3,499 shelter kits (tarpaulin sheets and rope), 5,500 water kits, 5,500 hygiene kits and 4,100 infant kits that will benefit 14,499 families or 76,595 individuals,” says Carin van der Hor, Plan International’s Country Director in the Philippines.

“In an emergency, our first response focuses on life-saving needs, including water and sanitation, but we also look at the bigger picture, working to make sure that children are safe from harm and able to return to school,” she says.

“Should roads be passable, we are deploying our assessment team based in the Visayas to conduct a rapid needs assessment in Eastern Samar, particularly in the towns of Dolores, Hernani, Oras and Balangkayan.”

Plan International is one of the Philippines’ longest-serving humanitarian and development organisations, operating across the country and with staff on standby in Tacloban, Borongan, Catbalogan, Catarman, Masbate, Mindoro and Manila. Staff in the affected regions have been able to help report the following:
Intense winds have caused infrastructure damage in Borongan in Eastern Samar. Communications are down, and the city is without power and water. No official reports on any casualties as yet. Significant road damage has isolated the city from other tow.
At least 4,000 families evacuated in Northern Samar province, where 20 of 24 towns are at risk of flooding, while 16 towns are at risk of landslides.
In Western Samar province, 20 towns and 2 cities are at risk of flooding.
The province of Sorsogon has evacuated 173,000 people.
Power still down in Tacloban. Though the typhoon spared the city, there is significant damage to infrastructure caused by very strong winds. No reported casualties in Tacloban according to Mayor Alfred Romualdez.
Power is out in Masbate. Almost zero visibility in the provincial capital due to very strong winds and rains.
Some Plan staff on the ground also reported their experience and eyewitness accounts of surviving the storm.

“The typhoon was very strong and took its time when it made landfall in Eastern Samar,” says Willy Novela, Plan’s emergency response team leader in Borongan. “Some roads were heavily flooded but the waters immediately receded. The city’s biggest hotel was packed with evacuees. The hotel building sustained damage from strong winds and rains.”

In Tacloban, Plan communications officer Christelyn Sibugon described the typhoon’s strong winds as “howling, wailing.”

“Though the typhoon spared the city, there is still noticeable impact— like debris from fallen signboards and roofing sheets —and most of all, the memories of Typhoon Haiyan were brought back to mind among children and their families who have yet to fully recover from last year’s disaster,” she says.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International in Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945