Red Cross teams are at the highest level of alert as communities in Northern Luzon in the Philippines brace for Typhoon Mangkhut (known locally as Ompong), expected to make landfall Saturday morning.
Typhoon Mangkhut’s high winds and torrential rains are expected to bring widespread damage and affect infrastructure, agriculture and livelihoods within its 900 km diameter.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) released an imminent emergency fund of 83,017 Swiss francs (86,000 US dollars / 4.6 million Philippine peso) from its disaster relief emergency fund (DREF) to support Red Cross preparedness efforts in Northern Luzon, with additional allocations possible in the near future.
“Proactive measures like releasing emergency funds in advance of a disaster striking ensure we can speedily get assessment and emergency response teams in action,” says Chris Staines, Head of IFRC Country Office in the Philippines. “The funds also help us pre-position emergency items we know families will lose if the worst happens.”
Philippine Red Cross specialists are now in place in areas likely to be hit by Mangkhut so they can assess the damage and deliver immediate assistance once it is safe. Emergency response teams, national disaster response teams, welfare teams and Red Cross 143 volunteers in local chapters in the three regions are on standby with water search and rescue teams, water units and equipment ready to dispatch.
Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said, “The irony is we are getting better in preparing for disasters – we have more evacuation centers, more people of the ground, we have the logistics and assets needed to respond – but climate change is making the storms stronger and harsher.”
“We’ve experienced category 5 typhoons in the same area in 2010 with Megi and 2016 with Haima. But Mangkhut’s swathe here is wider, so that means a lot of ground will be covered, and it is still very capable of creating a lot of suffering for people.”
Typhoon Mangkhut is the 15th storm to pound the Philippines this year, which is hit by about 20 a year.