Humanity First Responds to Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby)
Typhoon Lashes Philippines, Amid Fears of a Repeat of Last Year's Devastation.
Typhoon Hagupit began battering the Philippines late Saturday, with strong winds and rain expected to pummel a central belt of the island nation for days as the storm churns westward.
With the memories of last year's devastating typhoon still fresh, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from dangerous coastal areas before the storm hit. While Hagupit was weaker Saturday than the earlier typhoon, which killed more than 7,000 people, it is the most powerful storm to hit the country this year.
In Luzon Island's southern Bicol region, the storm toppled trees, triggered mudslides and sent waves spraying across seaside roadways. The storm continued to weaken Sunday morning, with sustained winds of 100 m.p.h., as it drove west to Masbate Island, Philippine government meteorologists said.
The worst of the storm appears likely to pass to the north of the city of Tacloban and other areas that were devastated last year by Typhoon Haiyan, according to maps produced by Philippine meteorologists. Fears there have been heightened because many people are still living in temporary shelters there, and emergency shelters have not been fully rebuilt.
There is also concern about the damage the typhoon could wreak if it passes near Manila, with its millions of residents and often bad drainage, which has led to dangerous floods in the past. The United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center is forecasting that the storm will pass near the capital, but the official storm-monitoring services of the Philippines and Japan indicate that Hagupit will take a more southerly path.
The typhoon made landfall by 9:15 p.m. near the town of Dolores on eastern Samar Island, with maximum sustained winds of 108 miles per hour near its center on Saturday afternoon, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
The typhoon is forecast to take up to three days to grind its way across the central Philippines, dumping heavy rains and raising the possibility of deadly landslides.
On Saturday, the United States Joint Typhoon Warning Center downgraded Hagupit from "super typhoon" status, and the Japan Meteorological Agency also lowered its designation from the highest level, "violent," to "very strong."
Last year, Typhoon Haiyan passed relatively quickly over the Philippines, sparing it extensive landslides that are usually among the biggest dangers of typhoons in the island nation. But a storm surge sent a wall of water across low-lying coastal areas in Tacloban, toppling houses and flooding schools that were used as emergency shelters.
Storm surges as high as 17 feet were blamed for more than 90 percent of the deaths and injuries last year in Tacloban and in Palo and Tanauan. Experts have said that more extensive evacuations could have saved many lives.
The storm surge from Hagupit could reach as high as 15 feet, the government has warned. In recent days, more than 500,000 people have been evacuated from vulnerable coastal areas, the social welfare secretary, Dinky Soliman, said at a news conference on Friday in Manila. Also on Friday, further evacuations were ordered in Albay, a province in the storm's projected path where people living in coastal areas and below the Mayon volcano are considered to be at risk of storm surges and landslides, according to local news reports.
The army was deployed to stores and major roads in provinces in the typhoon's path to try to prevent the type of looting and violence that occurred after Haiyan hit last year, The Associated Press reported.
Humanity First has sent a local team to affected areas for initial assessment and to provide assistance to displaced individuals with essential supplies.
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Humanity First has responded to many recent disasters including recently in Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts in USA East coast, floods in Philippines, famine in north east Africa, Japan tsunami, Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods. In post disaster phase, Humanity First has also built local infrastructure to alleviate poverty in these countries.