International Medical Corps is preparing to respond to Typhoon Koppu as it slowly barreled across the main island of Luzon on Sunday, bringing heavy rain and the potential for floods and landslides.
International Medical Corps prepositioned medical mobile kits and water/sanitation/hygiene supplies in advance of the storm. It is also coordinating with the Philippines government, UN agencies and other local and international relief groups. Its team of WASH specialists, a medical doctor, nurses, and logistician are preparing to conduct assessments of the affected areas and deliver relief.
Koppu, known locally as Lando, reached super typhoon strength as it came ashore early Sunday, ripping the roofs off buildings and uprooting trees in the province of Aurora. Roads and communications have been cut off, with power out in 22 towns and two cities, authorities said. So far about 15,000 people had taken shelter in evacuation centers, but the Philippines’ disaster management agency said that number is expected to rise.
While some authorities estimated the storm’s maximum sustained winds of 150 mph when it made landfall, it has since lost some of its strength as it lumbers over land. Koppu is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year. An average of 20 storms and typhoons each year batter the archipelago, one of the world’s most disaster-prone, with a population of 100 million. A total of 40 million people are estimated to be in the areas affected by Koppu.
International Medical Corps has been operating in the Philippines since 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, tore through the central part of the country, leveling entire towns and leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing. International Medical Corps has extensive experience in the region overall, having responded to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, and the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.