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Tuesday 08 January 2013

Bopha destroys livelihoods in Philippines
Bopha destroys livelihoods in Philippines Destruction left behind in Davao Oriental Province along the eastern coast after Super Typhoon Bopha struck at the beginning of December 2012.

As ShelterBox relief efforts continue in Compostela Valley on Mindanao island, Philippines, another Response Team has been assessing the need along the eastern coastal regions of Cateel and Baganga.

Typhoon Bopha, known locally as Pablo, made landfall on the South Filipino Island late at night on December 4, 2012. The eye of the storm struck the eastern coast, causing widespread loss of life and destruction in Davao Oriental Province. In Baganga alone, 19,500 families lost their homes and 172 people lost their lives.

"Never before have I seen such devastation caused by natural disaster," said ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member, Sharon Donald (UK) who has been working alongside Bruce Heller (US) in the region meeting the local people and assessing the need for emergency shelter.

SRT members Sharon and Bruce with Mera Ching, the Town Captain of Banao, who lost her home and two family members to Typhoon Bopha, Mindanao, Philippines, January 2013.

"Bopha destroyed everything in its path. Coconut trees were knocked down like matchsticks, killing hundreds of people in this area alone, and destroying thousands of homes. The debris left behind is immense. The region will take years and years to recover. The people have lost so much: family, friends, and their homes. They really need our help."

Not only did the super typhoon flatten homes but it also has destroyed livelihoods.

"60 percent of peoples’ earnings rely heavily on the coconut trade," commented Heller. "Each tree takes seven years to grow. With thousands upon thousands of them wiped out, families have lost their income as well as everything else."

Bruce and Sharon spoke to Mera Ching, the town captain of the Banao region in Baganga. She lost her home along with 579 other families in Banao alone. Tragically, Mera also lost two family members in the disaster.

ShelterBox continues to distribute emergency shelter and other lifesaving items to displaced families in Compostela Valley on their own plot of land giving them a place to live as they rebuild their homes, December 2012.

"The typhoon struck around 11pm and lasted until 9am the next morning," said Mera. "The worst winds were between 3am and 6am. It was very, very frightening. The last typhoon to hit this area was 1912. It waited 100 years for us."

The SRT has been working with local non-governmental organization Balay Mindanaw, the Filipino Red Cross, and the Mayor and town captains to identify areas that can be cleared of debris to make way for ShelterBox tents.

"We are making progress and have identified an island just off the coast where all 253 families lost their homes," said Heller. "They are now living on the mainland in schools and other evacuation centers waiting for land clearance and our assistance. We will work as hard as we can to return them to shelter and warmth in tents as soon as possible."
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