Typhoon survivors weather another blow: Stories after Hagupit


December 9, 2014

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  • Typhoon Hagupit's damage is most obvious on homes that had not yet fully recovered from Haiyan. Edgar Encina's home, above, has been patched together with debris from this weekend's storm. Photo: Mercy Corps

In the wake of Typhoon Hagupit, our team is surveying the damage in communities we've been helping rebuild since last year's Typhoon Haiyan and assessing what people need to recover yet again.

“It is heart wrenching to see people who were affected before go through this once again,” said Vaidehi Krishnan, Mercy Corps’ program manager.

Hagupit, which was eventually downgraded to a tropical storm, is gradually leaving the Philippines after hitting the island nation with destructive winds and rain over the weekend. The storm made landfall in East Samar and caused the most destruction in coastal communities that were still recovering from devastating Typhoon Haiyan just 13 months ago.

Thankfully, lessons learned from that tragedy saved lives this time: Nearly 1.7 million people took shelter in evacuation centers as the storm passed over the Philippines, steadily weakening as it moved west.

The team reports that while some areas were spared more severe damage, people living in lightweight and makeshift houses — whose sturdier homes were destroyed by Haiyan — suffered the most damage from this storm.

“Whatever little effort and money they used towards rebuilding their homes has now been washed away by Hagupit,” said Krishnan.

Paulita Valle, a 60-year-old grandmother who lives in Eastern Leyte, recalled what it felt like to face yet another storm. “We were scared when we heard the news. I took shelter in my neighbor’s house, which is made of concrete. It was scary, especially the sound of the wind. It was strong….really strong. I prayed that this would not be as bad as Yolanda.”

Paulita received cash assistance from Mercy Corps to rebuild after Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda. This year, we used that mobile banking network to send early warning text messages to her and 21,000 other people ahead of Typhoon Hagupit, as well as mobile phone credit to help them reach their families.

“I thank Mercy Corps for their messages and for sending us phone credit. My grandson used the credit to send messages to my children to let them know that we are safe. It was very useful for us to get that in time,” said Paulita.

Our team is working hard to determine how Mercy Corps can best keep families on track to recovery after this second devastating storm in just 13 months. While the challenges in the Philippines are great, so is the will to rebuild.

Edgar Encina, a 50-year-old farmer who also received cash assistance after Haiyan, already emerged from his damaged home to quickly make repairs.

Edgar's family used storm debris to help patch together his home after it was damaged again during Typhoon Hagupit. Photo: Mercy Corps

“Community members and extended families are coming forward to help one another rebuild. In the case of Paulita and Edgar — their neighbors and children helped them patch their homes together,” said Krishnan. “Many of them have collected scrap material, fallen branches, pieces of tin roofing and other materials from the debris to hurriedly patch together their homes. Our staff is inspired by communities coming together in the aftermath of the calamity, when many of them face the same challenges of rebuilding their homes and their lives."

Grace Tobio, our team lead in Eastern Leyte, added: “Thanks to the people we help, we are learning the meaning of resilience.”

How you can help

Together we can help families in the Philippines recover from this second major typhoon in just a year. Your gift to our Humanitarian Response Fund deliver emergency relief and the resources to rebuild after disasters here and around the world. Give now ▸