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Typhoon Hagupit continues slow sweep across Philippines

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7 December 2014

Millions of people face an agonising wait as Typhoon Hagupit continues to make its way across the Philippines.

Red Cross teams across the country are helping in areas already hit and are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage.

The risk of further storm impact, dangerous flash flooding and landslides remain a major concern for the country – as the situation is closely monitored over the next 24 hours.

Assessing damage

In areas visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in Guiuan, Tacloban and Catbalogan, some roofs and trees are down and electricity is temporarily cut.

But the ICRC has not yet been able to reach the more remote areas of the archipelago. It will take longer to assess damage caused and to check how many casualties there are.

‘So scared’

Pauline Ricafort, 27, is from Lucena in the Quezon province. She decided to leave her house close to Quezon's coastline and seek safety in a hotel in the town.

She said: "My house is not very strong and I was terrified about staying there. I've been through typhoons before and the thought of what we might suffer here made me desperate to escape. 

"I have family in the areas already affected and I don't know how they are - I can't contact them so I am very worried.”

Playing major part

In Lucena, the Red Cross is helping people like Pauline search for their missing loved ones.

They played a major part in the evacuation of up to one million people to places of safety and are also set to deliver food supplies and emergency equipment – such as an ambulance and mobile clinic – to the worst-hit areas.

The Red Cross has packs in place to help up to 30,000 families in Manila, Cebu and Subic, with blankets, sleeping mats, bed sheets, jerry cans and mosquito nets.

Already prepared

Jiferson Cueto, 24, is among the hundreds of specially trained Philippine Red Cross volunteers stationed in areas yet to be hit by Hagupit. 

Jiferson said: “We have been planning for this typhoon and we have the equipment and the teams waiting to go.

“I am always checking on my parents and my brothers and sisters to make sure they are ready and they know what to do if there is an emergency.

Being prepared and making sure people know the Red Cross is there for them is very important – we just hope this time the typhoon will spare us.”

Careful monitoring

Early signs are that the Philippines was much better prepared for Typhoon Hagupit – known locally as Ruby – than for last year’s devastating super Typhoon Haiyan, which left several thousand dead.

Hagupit has turned out to be less powerful than Haiyan – but there are still concerns.

British Red Cross and IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) representative, Nichola Jones is in Lucena.

She said: “Hagupit's slow grind across the country is what could still make it potentially deadly.”

Danger to recovery

Typhoon Hagupit comes just 13 months after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013.

Over 6,000 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed. 

The Red Cross movement has been working closely with communities ever since, helping with recovery efforts.

Nearly 20,000 households have either had their houses repaired or rebuilt, and close to 30,000 households have been supported to recover their lost livelihoods. The work continues.

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