Oxfam is prepared for a major disaster response in the Philippines after Cyclone Hagupit was upgraded to a Super Typhoon – the same classification as Typhoon Haiyan – which wrought destruction on the country a year ago.
The Category 5 rated storm, which has recorded maximum wind speeds of more than 300km/h, is currently tracking towards Manila, and poses a risk to 32.6 million people.
Oxfam has staff on standby to respond to the emergency and prepositioned stocks throughout the Philippines, including hygiene kits and water purification tablets, ready for rapid distribution.
Oxfam’s Country Director in the Philippines, Justin Morgan, said local government authorities had been evacuating residents, including people still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the central Philippines last November.
“We are preparing for the worst, but we are still hopeful that the storm will change course,” Mr Morgan said.
“In Tacloban today we were seeing long queues, as people filled up jerry cans at petrol stations and bought provisions. We also saw government staff and individuals pulling limbs off trees to reduce the chance of them becoming missiles. People are working together to minimise the risks wherever they can.”
Oxfam is particularly concerned about the situation of those households that are still struggling to recover from Typhoon Haiyan, often living in inadequate shelter that will not be able to withstand significant winds and rain.
Many people are living in deeper poverty because of ongoing difficulties with fully resuming their livelihoods, including agricultural work.
“These households will likely be the most impacted by Typhoon Hagupit if it continues on its projected path towards the Visayas,” Mr Morgan said.
“The lack of functional evacuation centres, with many damaged or destroyed during Typhoon Haiyan, also remains a major consideration in terms of the ability for communities to safely and quickly evacuate.”
The storm is expected to make landfall on Saturday, if it does not divert from its current course.
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