On Christmas Eve, 2019, Typhoon Phanfone made landfall in the Philippines, bringing heavy rain and winds across the Visayas Region as it passed over the area. Known locally as Typhoon Ursula, the category 2 storm was its most intense while it made landfall seven times across the central Philippine islands.
Philippine Red Cross workers set up first aid stations, welfare desks for mental health support, and distributed items like clothing, blankets and mosquito nets to meet the needs of the thousands of people left with nearly nothing after Typhoon Phanfone. Thousands of ready-to-eat meals and clean water have been distributed as well as clothing, blankets and mosquito nets. Red Cross workers were also placed on standby for emergency response through ambulances and rescue boats.
Typhoon Phanfone covered a large area of the Philippines, with more than 3.2 million people affected. Volunteers and staff of the Philippine Red Cross are still working to help the families most deeply impacted.
Typhoon Phanfone crossed the islands, forcing many to start over again. Those who looked to agriculture for their livelihood and to provide for their families were left with damaged crops and farming equipment. Agriculture, one the biggest industries in the areas, and fisheries were impacted by the storm. Farmers, fisherfolks, skilled workers, professionals, small vendors and others suffered losses during the typhoon and have a long road ahead to recovery.
The Red Cross is helping people in Occidental Mindoro, an area struck heavily on Christmas Day, where many fishermen and farmers live. Niza Magbanua and her family lost their home there instantly in the storm.
To aid in the recovery of such significant disruption to the well-being of so many people, the American Red Cross has contributed $150,000 to support the Philippine Red Cross in this response. The American Red Cross also deployed an Information Management specialist to support the relief operation with data management and information needs.
The Philippine Red Cross is simultaneously continuing to respond to other disasters from the year including 2 other typhoons, a Dengue outbreak, 2 earthquakes and Typhoon Kammuri just months previous.
In this current coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine Red Cross is adapting to make sure teams can continue assistance to those affected by Phanfone while following community quarantine policies to fight the spread of COVID-19. The Red Cross is giving cash to people impacted so they can buy what they need. And teams are helping to bring needed resources to the affected areas.
These measures have brought some relief to people like Richard Elemento. His boat was destroyed by Typhoon Phanfone, eliminating his source of income as a fisherman and leaving him unable to support his family. But with the money given to him by the Red Cross, he was able to purchase new equipment and had the means to provide for his family again by fishing.
The Philippine Red Cross will continue supporting those affected by the storm and this global pandemic with help from the IFRC and the American Red Cross as they focus efforts on needs for shelter, livelihood, health, and water and sanitation for the year following the storm.