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Launching emergency response to reach survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan

Philippines, November 10, 2013

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  • Children walk through vehicles and debris strewn across a river after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines. Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro, courtesy Trust.org

With the devastating impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan clearer, Mercy Corps is deploying seasoned emergency responders to the Philippines. We’ll be working with partners on the ground to meet immediate humanitarian needs.

“Based on our initial conversations with the United Nations and other colleagues on the ground, we anticipate the most pressing needs to be clean water, sanitation, temporary shelter and food,” said Michael Bowers, our senior director of strategic response and global emergencies.

Government officials estimate that as many as 10,000 people were killed in Leyte province, in the hardest-hit Eastern Visayas Islands. More than 9 million people have been affected by the storm — known locally as Typhoon Yolanda — across nine regions of the country.

"My whole life, there's never been a storm like this that devastated Iloilo this much and this quick," one woman told a Mercy Corps staffer about her hometown in the Visayas. "We are not new to big storms and every year we get 20 or so, and every year they cause some damage, but in my 53 years, Iloilo has never been hit this bad."

Access to more isolated areas remains a challenge, as most roads are flooded or clogged with debris and communications are spotty. Coordinating the logistics to deliver lifesaving supplies is a top priority.

The first Mercy Corps team will be assessing needs and identifying partners to start delivering aid. We will expand the team in the coming days as relief and recovery efforts ramp up.

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“Mercy Corps has years of experience helping low-income communities in the Philippines. We know that the storm has devastated some of the country’s most vulnerable people," Bowers explained.

Mercy Corps has responded to almost every major disaster in the last 20 years, including the Indian Ocean tsunami, Haiti earthquake, Japan tsunami and the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.

“Our experience in these situations is that while we’re working to meet immediate humanitarian needs, it’s critical we look immediately for ways to start the recovery and reconstruction process," Bowers added. "Coming out of the immediate crisis, our goal is to help people return to their homes, get businesses running again and kids back to school as quickly as possible.”

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