Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Damage reports from the Philippines and super typhoon Megi

Damage to the Philippines caused by the super typhoon Megi is beginning to be processed. In the early assessments there are some signs of good news amidst the destruction.

As feared, rice crops not yet harvested were destroyed by the typhoon, but agriculture officials say that the Philippines should still have enough stockpiled to make it through the year. 80 to 90 percent of the homes in the typhoon region were destroyed. However only 10 deaths have thus far been attributed to the storm.

From Reuters Alertnet, writer Rolando Ng gives us more details on the damage.

The head of the National Food Authority, which manages the Philippines' grain stocks, said while unmilled rice crops had been damaged in the Cagayan valley, the country's second-biggest growing area, there was no need for extra imports this year. "We have more than enough for the year. The extent of damage to palay (unmilled rice) harvest in northern Luzon is still being assessed, but initial partial reports show that shortfalls are manageable," Angelito Banayo said in text message to Reuters.

Initial estimates of typhoon damage to unmilled rice in the Cagayan valley, which was directly in the path of Megi, varied, with three estimates from agriculture department officials putting the losses at between 52,000 and 105,000 tonnes.

They were well below a worst-case scenario of more than 230,000 tonnes, although the Governor of Isabela province, which includes part of the valley, put the losses at 385,000 tonnes.

The national disaster agency put the death toll so far at 10, a low tally for such a strong typhoon in the country of some 94 million. More than 3 million people live in Cagayan Valley, where the storm first hit and the government had spearheaded an evacuation drive from there and other coastal areas.

Hundreds of thousands were affected in three northern regions when heavy rain and strong winds destroyed or damaged houses, uprooted trees, flattened rice fields and triggered landslides, isolating four coastal towns in Isabela province.

Disaster agency officials in the Cordillera mountain region said more than 180,000 people in five provinces and the resort city Baguio were affected by the typhoon, but less than 3,000 are in temporary shelter areas.

Nearly all of Baguio was without power due to fallen trees and power lines, and low-lying areas were underwater, forcing hundreds to seek temporary shelter.

Meanwhile, Heifer International has been closely watching the families that they have helped in the region. According to Heifer's blog, this post says that everyone seems to be ok, but have taken on a lot of damage to their homes and crops.

Heifer International staff in the Philippines is reported to be okay a day after Super Typhoon Megi struck the country. Country Director Hercules Paradiang reports the roof of one staff member’s house had to be repaired, but that all team members are accounted for in the wake of the worst storm the country has seen in years.

According to staff reports from the north, at least 103 Heifer partner families lost their house’s roofs and harvestable crops (rice and vegetables) were destroyed by the storm. Communication services in some areas are still down, so a full reporting isn’t possible at this time, but there are reports that in the Palanan area, where Heifer works, 90 percent of houses were lost or damaged, displacing more than 11,000 people. Additionally, the national food authority warehouse was damaged, leaving 4,000 bags of rice—of 6,000 in storage—unfit for consumption.

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