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 submerged under water.
An Islamic Relief team, which has been on the ground assessing the damage in Cagayan and Cordillera Region, says that the isolated communities had 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.
Maryann Zamora, Islamic Relief’s rapid assessment team leader, 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. Everyone knows it is no longer a question of if, but simply when, they will be hit again.
This is the third time in ten years that I have had to come to the region of Cagayan in the wake of a disaster. The people here are no strangers to pain and they are extremely resilient. Every time they pick themselves up and start again, but as super storms become fiercer and more frequent, this just keeps getting harder and harder.”
Islamic Relief continues to assess the needs of families and extent of damage brought by Typhoon Mangkut in close coordination with other aid agencies, the UN and the government.
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Notes to editors
Islamic Relief Philippines was established in the Philippines four years ago to respond to Typhoon Yolanda. Since then it has established a Country Office in Mindanao, south Philippines to pursue relief and development work.
According to the UN 550,000 families may need humanitarian assistance. Millions more may be impacted by flooding.
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.
Spokesperson available from Apayao and in London.
Photos and phone footage from the ground are available.