It’s been two years since super typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm to ever make landfall in world history, struck the country on November 8, 2013.
As early as November 6, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chapters were advised by its chairman Richard Gordon to take immediate precautionary measures, and mobilize units for the consolidation of supplies, vehicles, equipment, and manpower. On November 7, Chairman Gordon sent a text blast to all PRC chapters to activate response units in the respective areas, which were previously identified.
During this time, the PRC leadership also called for an emergency meeting with Movement Partners (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Australian RC, Spanish RC, German RC, The Netherland RC, Finish RC). Together, they discussed the plans on how to address the immediate needs and life-saving measures to the vulnerable population affected by typhoon Haiyan.
Haiyan made landfall on November 8, and in less than 48 hours, PRC was on the grounds removing debris to open up main roads (more than 10,000 cubic meters of debris were collected), dispensing 68,702 hot meals and food supplies to hungry survivors, and attending to the medical needs of every citizen. While other agencies were still organizing plans and mobilizing their units, PRC was already delivering crucial services to the people.
On November 11, the PRC organized an additional humanitarian convoy that brought relief supplies (food and non-food), rescue equipment, transport vehicles, ambulances, pay loaders, and water tankers. Part of the convoy were trained and skilled personnel of the PRC and Red Cross 143 volunteers, tasked to assist and provide immediate and life-saving support to the disaster affected population in Central Philippines.
In addition to food and water, one of the essential items that were distributed during the relief operation was the emergency shelter repair kit that helped 51,185 families to start the repair and construction of their damaged homes.
Since line of communication was disrupted in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan, the PRC deployed its communication kit, helping survivors get in touch with their families. With the help of PRC’s partner mobile network, satellite phones were provided and the PRC was able to reconnect 35,230 families.
While the PRC units were busy on the ground, Chairman Gordon was also coordinating help with foreign partners, and ensuring that their donations were brought to the affected areas safely and as swiftly as possible.
During the emergency phase of the operation, around 230,000 families were supported with essential household items (blankets, mosquito nets, plastic mats, water containers, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and tarpaulins) – making it as the biggest operation in the history of the Philippine Red Cross.