People in northern Philippines are scrambling to safe areas and evacuation centers as Super Typhoon Noru (locally named Karding) begins to batter thousands of cities, homes and infrastructure. The typhoon, which had maximum wind speeds of 161 mph, made landfall at the Polillio islands north-eastern Philippines late Sunday, September 25, local time.
Philippine Red Cross teams and staff from the International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are on the ground, mobilized to assist and evacuate people to safety. Typhoon Noru will be the strongest storm hitting the country this year and it is as intense and destructive as last year's Super Typhoon Rai which damaged or destroyed 1.5 million houses in December.
“This storm is the strongest one yet this year to hit us. It is critical that we move everyone to safety right now as this Typhoon is set to cause devastation in all Central Luzon, including our capital, Manila,” said Richard Gordon, Philippine Red Cross Chairman.
Gordon said that volunteers are standing by to move people to evacuation centers.
“We are also pre-positioning emergency relief, hot meals, and medical supplies in anticipation. Our water tankers for drinking water and payloaders to quickly clear off debris, mud and fallen trees and make roads accessible to reach communities are also in place. We are advising people to charge their phones, pack food, and grab their important belongings. There is no telling of the extent of the disruptions,” he said.
The eastern seaboard Luzon island, (facing the Pacific ocean) is already being hit with strong winds and heavy rains. Hundreds of people in ports are left stranded as air and sea operations halt. The island is the country's largest and most populated island.
Alberto Bocanegra, IFRC Head of Philippine Country Office said that the Red Cross learned many lessons from Typhoon Rai, a superstorm that battered the country last year.
“We believe we are continuing to adapt our emergency responses and are prepared to handle the intensity of this storm,” Bocanegra said.
“These weather-related events are intensifying and becoming more frequent. The super storm that hit south-eastern Philippines was a mere ten months ago, and the people affected are barely picking up the pieces. We must be effective and quick to adapt no matter how bad the situation will be. IFRC is working closely with the Philippines Red Cross and helping with relief and providing support,” he said.
Philippines is hit with torrential rains, strong winds, floods and tropical storms multiple times in a year.