International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team conducted rapid needs assessments in eight municipalities of Eastern Leyte province: Palo, Ste Fe, Alangalang, Tunga, Carigara, Tolosa, Mayora and MacArthur. Findings indicated there was no significant infrastructure damage in these municipalities and that many families evacuated before the typhoon hit. People affected by the storm who were interviewed by our team expressed concerns that food prices had increased, that there was no power or water, that their livelihoods were disrupted i.e. fishermen were not able to work from December 4 to December 8, and vegetation was damaged. There was a need for hygiene kits, food, jerry cans and water.
While approximately 90% of evacuees returned to their homes soon after the storm, 29,100 families (149,000 persons) remained in 458 evacuation centers. Displaced people were in need of transitional shelter and shelter repair kits, water, sanitation and hygiene support, temporary learning spaces, and child and women friendly spaces. Immediately following the storm, a number of people were treated for minor injuries due to running and falling during the typhoon, being hit by debris, and getting cuts from galvanized metal sheets. Eighteen deaths and 916 injuries were reported.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported people were emotionally and psychologically prepared for the storm after experiencing the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan 13 months ago. The significant number of pre-emptive evacuations is seen as a main reason as to why there have been minimal casualties. Overall, International Medical Corps is impressed with the level of effective preparedness and coordination efforts of the Filipino population. There was minimal need of acute medical intervention.
The provinces of Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, and Leyte were previously devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 with an estimated 14 million people affected and 6,000 deaths. International Medical Corps was on the ground in the Philippines within 24 hours of Haiyan, delivering 14,625 health consultations in the first 6 weeks alone. We were able to reach remote communities cut off from health care and basic services by rapidly implementing a network of mobile medical units. Today, International Medical Corps is still working in the Philippines delivering critical health care and training services to help communities return to self-reliance. International Medical Corps has developed a robust, multi-sector team in the Philippines over the last 13 months and is well placed to respond to natural disasters. We have highly skilled staff in mental health and psychosocial support, nutrition, health and water, sanitation and hygiene on the ground.
International Medical Corps was a first responder to numerous natural disasters in Asia, including Cyclone Phailin in India in 2013, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.