UNICEF responds to families affected by Typhoon Bopha
Manila, Philippines. 7 December, 2012 - UNICEF is providing assistance to the families affected by Super Typhoon Bopha (local name Pablo) with a focus on ensuring clean water supply, providing temporary sanitation and non-food items for displaced families.
The strong typhoon slammed into the south eastern coast of Mindanao during the morning of 2nd December with a wind force of more than 175 kph and very heavy, intense rainfall. The areas that bore the initial force of the storm, are those with the greatest damage and loss of life. In these three provinces (Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur and Davao Oriental) the vast majority of the confirmed 418 deaths occurred. This number is still likely to rise with another 383 still missing.
In these rural, mountainous areas, residents spoke of a torrent of water, mud and logs racing through their villages with very little warning. Most cannot recall a storm like it in living memory. The UN joint assessment teams reported 100% destruction in many of these areas, meaning all the housing and crops were damaged, destroyed or washed away.
UNICEF has teams in the areas most affected and will continue to assess and respond to the needs of children and families. The agency is appealing for funds to ensure the effective response continues.
Whilst much of the focus is now on the areas suffering most damage and loss of life, there is a positive side to the current emergency. The path of the typhoon was set to hit the same two urban areas severely affected by Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong) one year ago, when more than 1500 residents lost their lives. On receiving this information the local government and community organisations were proactive in organising early evacuations of families in the most vulnerable areas. Recalling the terrifying experiences of one year ago, the residents moved quickly and promptly, into the prepared evacuation centred across the cities. The strong typhoon did pass directly over the area, and the cities report zero casualties. In contrast with their fellow citizens on the east coast, who were less prepared and less aware, this is a positive example of how preparation and early warning saves lives.