LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Dec. 5, 2012) - Heifer Philippines country staff report that project communities in the Central Philippines, which received high winds and heavy rains from Typhoon Bopha, suffered no damage, injuries or other adverse impact from the storm, so efforts are being directed at understanding the impact in the South in the Caraga regionAgusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte.
Assessments are expected to take several days as staff is being dissuaded from moving too quickly into affected areas as it may create expectations of immediate relief, a service Heifer is not positioned to provide.
In an emergency like this, the urgent need by affected communities is to get immediate help like food, clothing, water, etc., within the next 24-48 hours, said Hercules Paradiang, Heifer Philippines country director. These needs are being met for now by the government and emergency response agencies, so it is not yet the appropriate time to go visit individual families to ask questions related to rebuilding or rehabilitation at this point.
We will respect the request to delay, but will collect other information about livestock, agricultural impact, infrastructure, etc., from the province or municipality National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and provide it back to headquarters.
Paradiang has been able to determine that 439 homes were damaged in Heifer project communities, of which 422 were partially damaged and 17 destroyed.
Across the Southern Philippines, rescue teams continue to try to reach isolated communities Wednesday in the wake of Typhoon Bopha, which struck the southernmost island of Mindanao on Tuesday. The death toll is estimated at 270, with reports that 170,000 people were forced to flee their homes.
The storm, dubbed "Pablo" in the Philippines, made landfall early Tuesday (the Philippines is 14 hours ahead of Central Standard Time in the United States) with sustained winds greater than 160 mphthe equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.
Rescue teams are reporting seas of mud, upended trees, toppled electrical poles and flattened buildings or lost roofs in their search and rescue efforts. Wide areas of the island are without electricity for the second day, including one of Heifers primary regions, the Caraga, and the government continues to use trucks and boats to bring supplies of food, blankets, medicines and cadaver bags to stricken areas.
The Philippines weather bureau said that Bopha, which means "blossom'' in Khmer, is expected to exit Philippine territory by late Thursday.
Provincial officials in Mindanao are estimating the economic damage to infrastructure and agriculture could run into billions of pesos (tens of millions of dollars), with several bridges cut, roads washed out, power lines severed, and banana, coconut, vegetable and rubber plantations ruined.
Updates will be provided as events warrant.