When super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013, an estimated 14 million people were affected and over 6,300 people were killed. Within hours of making landfall, Caritas Australia and the wider Caritas International network, which also includes Catholic Relief Services and NASSA/Caritas Philippines, were on the ground responding to an emergency which devastated entire communities.
Through the support of the Australian community, Caritas was able to provide emergency support to those affected including up to 20,000 tarpaulins, 1 million water purification tablets to help 16,000 families, 18,000 emergency shelter supply kits and 5,000 water, sanitation and hygiene kits, and 5,000 non-food item kits. For Caritas Australia’s partners on the ground, the fifth anniversary of the Typhoon is a chance to reflect not just on the extent of the devastation caused by the typhoon but also on recovery efforts and community restoration projects.
‘Mothers clung to their children. Even the very toughest people, police and military men (broke down). Strong winds and waves almost ‘ate alive’ several families living on the shore line of Tacloban,’ says Jing Rey Henderson, Communications and Partnership Development Coordinator at Caritas Philippines.
‘When we approached the affected communities and asked, ‘What kind of help do you need?’ people told us that they needed housing. At that time people told us that conditions were really bad for those living in temporary shelters.’
Since super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the other significant achievements of Caritas in the Philippines, through partnership with other members of the Caritas network, is emergency prevention, preparedness and mitigation. Subsequent hazard situations in the Philippines caused less damage and loss of life because of preparedness strategies.
‘More than the income we can make out of the environment, we need the environment to protect our home,’ local tribeswomen told me,’ Ms Henderson said.
Your support of our super Typhoon Haiyan response and all the other emergencies that have elapsed since then, like (last month’s) Typhoon Mangkhut, is appreciated. What we can only promise is that we will make good on the donations and the generous support.’
An anniversary commemoration of super Typhoon Haiyan is taking place in the city of Palo, Leyte on 16-17 November. The memorial will pay tribute to the memory of the deceased and celebrate the work of recovery crews and volunteers.