LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Dec. 7, 2012) - Heifer Philippines country staff continues to assess damage from Typhoon Bopha, but project officers and partners in the Sta. Jose community in South Philippines are reporting a number of homes damaged or destroyed, drowned livestock and lost crops.
According to Hercules Paradiang, Heifer Philippines country director, 366 families in two projects in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur, were significantly affected, with every familys home either damaged or destroyed. More than 250 pigs were lost, as well as 90 goats. A building owned by a community group, comprising a feedmill and raw materials for feeds, which were just purchased, was also damaged.
Staff is reporting significant damage to rice, corn and banana crops in the fields as well. The reports, which are still sketchy and unverified, are trickling in due to continued difficulty reaching and communicating with families and staff in the field. Initial estimates of damage to Heifers projects overall is USD $550,000.
The official death toll from Typhoon Bopha, which roared ashore early Tuesday with 160 mile an hour winds, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, stands at 418 with 383 missing and hundreds injured, according to the Philippines national disaster agency.
The storm has weakened and is moving slowly north-northwest toward the South China Sea, with central winds of up to 68 mph and gusts of up to 87 mph.
Aid continues to pour in from pre-positioned government stores, and international aid organizations are responding to the immediate, short-term needs. Heifer staff in the Philippines and at the headquarters office in Little Rock is collecting updates and information to prepare for the rehabilitation work that will begin soon.
In that, Heifer Philippines country staff will work with project families to repair and replace homes, replace lost livestock, repair animal pens and replace and replant crops.
Right now, our role is to give the government and first-responders the room to do their work, to help the families who need them so badly, said Mahendra Lohani, vice president of Heifer Internationals Asia/South Pacific area. Then, when some order is restored, we will work with families and partners to rebuild their farms and shore up and restore agricultural production.
Only that will provide them the resources and assets, such as income, food and goods for sale, that will start the real long-term recovery that is so important to a sustainable life.
Updates will continue to be provided as events warrant.