Tuesday 18th September 2018

As the winds and rains begin to recede, the true extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Mangkhut is only just starting to come to light, with more than 65 dead, dozens missing, thousands left homeless and acres of farmland badly damaged.

An Islamic Relief emergency response team has been on the ground assessing the damage in Cagayan and Cordillera Region. Maryann Zamora, Islamic Relief’s assessment team lead, says that that isolated communities have been the hardest hit, with poorly built homes totally crumbling in the face of winds raging at more than 150-mile-per-hour.

Fears are especially high for those living in rural areas, as roads are still blocked due to landslides and flooding and those whose crops have been badly damaged, leaving them facing increasing economic hardship and possible food insecurity.

Zamora says that many families feel like they are in a never-ending cycle of devastation, with typhoons in the region growing ever stronger and more frequent. 

“People have lost their homes, their crops and in extreme cases their loved ones. What makes it worse is that families here had only just started recovering from Typhoon Haima, another Cat 5 storm, which wreaked havoc here two years ago – and now they are back to square one. 

“Farms they fought to bring back to life are once again devastated, their crops destroyed, their livelihoods and futures at risk. 

“Children have told me how they were terrified and feared that their homes would blow over, sweeping them up in the storm. In the day they are out playing in the flattened crops, pretending to harvest  the corn  that they themselves know that the damaged is beyond salvation.” 

“This is the third time in less than ten years that I have had to come to the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela in the wake of a disaster. The people here are no strangers to strong typhoons and have been so resilient. They get back quickly but with strong typhoons happening every time they again start picking themselves up, it keeps getting harder and harder.”

Islamic Relief will be responding to the needs of families that have been impacted and whose livelihood have been put in jeopardy by the typhoon. We are continuing to work with other in-country humanitarian organizations, the UN agencies and the government.

***Notes to editors***

Islamic Relief Philippines was established in the Philippines four years ago to respond to Typhoon Haiyan when we reached almost 40,000 affected families and provided access to water, health and sanitation, as well as built shelters and worked to rebuild livelihoods.

Since then it has established a Country Office in Mindanao, south Philippines to pursue relief and development work particularly in areas vulnerable to armed conflict.

Mangkhut was the strongest storm anywhere on the planet in 2018, carrying gusts of 200 mph before it made landfall in Cagayan province early in the hours of Saturday morning.

According to local media reports, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services and Administration (PAGASA) has issued a further warning the country could see four or five additional super typhoons, as powerful as Typhoon Mangkhut, before the end of the year.