Philippines: Super Typhoon Haiyan makes landfall, UN and humanitarian community on high-alert

8 November, 2013
November 2013: The UN and its humanitarian partners are working alongside the Philippine Government to assess damage that has been caused by Typhoon Haiyan - 2013's strongest storm. Credit: NOAA
November 2013: The UN and its humanitarian partners are working alongside the Philippine Government to assess damage that has been caused by Typhoon Haiyan - 2013's strongest storm. Credit: NOAA

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are supporting the Philippine Government to assess damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). The super typhoon made landfall on the eastern coast of the Philippines at 4.30 a.m. local time (8 November) and is currently making its way across the country.

The super typhoon has ripped roofs off houses and uprooted trees. Telecommunication and electricity supplies have been interrupted and air and seaports are closed. The full extent of the damage will not be known until the storm has passed. At least 18 million people live in the worst-affected regions of Western, Central and Eastern Visayas.

UN emergency team deployed

A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team was deployed to the Philippines ahead of the storm. The team will work closely with the Government and regional authorities to assess the needs of affected communities and to help formulate response plans.

The storm, which is hundreds of kilometres wide, is affecting a vast area of the central Philippines including many islands and other isolated environments. Gathering urgently needed information about what people need, where the greatest needs are, what kind of damage the storm has done and where is emerging as a massive logistical task.

OCHA calls for digital volunteers

To help with assessments, OCHA has asked the Digital Humanitarian Network to activate their volunteer base to help scour social media and other online platforms for information about damage and impact that is being posted by affected people in the Philippines.

For the first time the team will also be collecting expressions of needs and tracking offers of assistance made via social media. Anyone with an internet connection can help and no formal training is required.

To take part in this digital mapping exercise, visit the Digital Humanitarian Network’s Standby Volunteer Taskforce website.

Thousands evacuated in advance

As the storm approached, the Government took a number of steps to save lives by moving people from coastal and low-lying areas known to be prone to flash flooding and landslides. More than 125,000 people were pre-emptively evacuated.

“We are working closely in support of [the] Government and local authorities to assess the life-saving needs of the people affected by this typhoon,” said Dr. Julie Hall, acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines.

The Humanitarian Country Team and partners have complemented Government preparedness efforts by pre-positioning stocks to respond to life-saving needs of affected people.

“The Humanitarian Country Team and partners are fully prepared to support and assist the Government in response to this latest typhoon,” said Dr. Hall. “We will continue to support their efforts as we wait to see exactly the extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan.”

More>> Typhoon Haiyan crisis hub

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