HelpAge prepares for Typhoon Hagupit


By Sarah Marzouk

Tens of thousands are seeking shelter as Typhoon Hagupit, local name Ruby, heads towards the Philippines.

Hagupit is due to make landfall tomorrow, 6 December, hitting north Samar, where Typhoon Haiyan caused so much devastation last year.

An older woman and her grandchildren. We provided support to older people after Typhoon Haiyan. (c) Peter Caton/HelpAge International Ian Clarke, HelpAge-COSE Programme Director in the Philippines, said:

"We are taking all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our staff; briefing them about safety measures, emergency hotlines and evacuation centre information.

Setting up help desks for older people

"We have visited seven evacuation centres in the Tacloban area and found many are already overcrowded. No food or water is being provided and people are making do with what they have brought.

"Sanitation is a problem as it is insufficient for the number of people. We are finding out how many older people are in the centres. We are also asking other agencies to include older people in their plans for any relief support, if it is needed."

In preparation for Hagupit, HelpAge is setting up help desks in the evacuation centres and broadcasting messages so older people know what to take with them in case of evacuation.

We are also working with UNOCHA and other agencies to share information and be well prepared.

We are in constant contact with our regional office in Manila and our field offices. Our local offices in Medellin, Ormoc and Tacloban have stopped operating for the moment.

Assessing what support is needed

The next step is to undertake a rapid assessment in the areas we work to determine what support is needed and make requests for support as appropriate.

It's been suggested that Tacloban will not be hit as hard as last time, but rainfall and wind speed is expected to be very strong.

Ferries from Cebu into Leyte have stopped for the time being. The next 24 to 48 hours are crucial and will inform where and how strong the impact will be.

Local governments have taken steps to evacuate people to safety, but there are already reports that evacuation centres are filling up. Food has run out in most grocery stores as people are stocking up.

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