Massive evacuations underway as Typhoon Haiyan threatens Central Philippines

Government authorities prepare as the Philippines braces for super typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) to hit Visayas islands this Friday with estimated population of 18 million people. It may even impact quake-hit zones of Bohol where World Vision currently has relief efforts. It is predicted to be the strongest so far at 240 kph. Storm signals are now hoisted in 12 areas as Haiyan enters Philippines. 

“Our response teams are on standby to support government efforts if needed, staff and assisted families have been advised to take safety precautions,” assures Ernesto Macabenta, World Vision’s Associate Director of Operations in Visayas. World Vision staff are working with national and local government and disaster units, alerting communities along the storm's path for precautionary measures.

Crislyn Felisilda, World Vision communicator in Cagayan de Oro City shares, “Learning from our experience in typhoon Washi in 2011 (local name Sendong), many families took refuge in the South City Central School. They will be sleeping in evacuation centers as part of the city’s preemptive evacuations of communities in low-lying and flood-prone areas.”

Haiyan is forecasted to surpass Typhoon Bopha’s (local name Pablo) strength which pummeled northern Mindanao last year destroying 216,000 homes. With a rain diameter of 800 km, Haiyan is expected to bring 40-60 mm of intense rains as it heads west-northwest to landfall over eastern provinces of Samar and Leyte by Friday. Haiyan also threatens southern Luzon including the Bicol Region and Metro Manila.

Classes and work have been suspended in affected areas until Friday. Sea ports were closed for safety and to prevent casualties. Coastal communities were advised to halt fishing activities and evacuate if necessary while farmers were urged to harvest farm products. Local governments and disaster agencies are prepositioning relief supplies and have identified possible evacuation centers.

World Vision Disaster Risk Reduction staff Joyce Dumayag says, “Families should prepare their survival kits and make sure that they retrofit their homes. Here in Bohol, families should strengthen their tents and makeshift houses in areas that are not flood-prone.” Earlier rains brought byTyphoon Wilma this week submerged Bohol's quake-hit towns and evacuation centers, adding woes to displaced families.

Unfazed by rains and aftershocks, World Vision relief teams in Bohol continue distribution in Sikatuna, San Isidro, Loboc and Sagbayan to complete relief assistance phase for 7000 families. Shelter kits are also on the way for 4000 families in the next six months of the emergency response.

World Vision currently assists 34,003 children in 17 Area Development Programmes (ADPs) in 12 Visayan provinces including of Samar, Leyte, and Bohol.