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Wednesday 12 December 2012

ShelterBox assesses need in Philippines
ShelterBox assesses need in Philippines Destruction left behind by Typhoon Bopha in Compostela Valley, Philippines, December 2012.

"As we were driving, I saw miles and miles of people lined up on both sides of the road holding cardboard signs asking for donations of food or water, eyes desperate and scared. I have never seen anything like it on previous deployments"

ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member, John Cordell (US) describes his journey to Compostela Valley in Davao Oriental province, Philippines, one of the worst hit areas by super Typhoon Bopha on the island of Mindanao. He is part of a three-person team who has been assessing the need in the region.

Almost a quarter of the 4.1 million people affected by the destructive storm are in Compostela Valley, also known as Camval, with ninety percent of the 7,200 totally destroyed homes being here. Out of the 800 people still missing, 500 are in Camval. Buildings have been washed away or buried by flash floods and mudslides. Food and water is scarce.

Worse storm ever

"We have been told that Bopha is the worst storm this area has ever seen," said Cordell.

This is what is left of 50-year-old Urbano Tacgos' house in Nabunturan in Compostela Valley. He lived here with his wife, daughter, two brothers, two sister-in-laws and a young nephew, December 2012.

While rescue efforts continue, ShelterBox has been working with local government units, the regional disaster management authority, the civil defense, the navy and Rotary to address the needs of the most vulnerable families in the province.

As Bopha hit, many families took cover, some in their concrete toilets, others under their wooden dining tables. Victoria Bunda was living with her seven children aged 2-14 years old in Montevista, Camval when the storm struck.

Scrambled to safety

"At the height of the storm, we all scrambled to safety by taking cover under our wooden dining table," explained Victoria. "We then had an opportunity to run out of the house. A few seconds later, the strong 150 kilometer per hour winds slammed into our home flattening it to the ground and scattering pieces everywhere."

The makeshift shelter Victoria lives in with her family, Compostela Valley, December 2012.

The family then ran to the safety of their neighbor's house but saw the same had happened to theirs. Together both families took shelter in another neighbor's house, built sturdier.

"We found Victoria and her family living in a makeshift shelter made out of debris and tarp," said SRT member, Sonny Ongkiko (PH). "The youngest girl in the family is sick and has a very high fever. We are working hard to bring in ShelterBoxes as quickly as possible to give families, like Victoria's, the shelter, warmth and protection they need to live in dignity."
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