Super Typhoon Megi departed from the Philippines yesterday, leaving an estimated 13 people dead as it drifted toward China and Hong Kong. Catholic Relief Services announced it is preparing emergency humanitarian aid for families affected by the unusually powerful storm, which significantly damaged infrastructure in addition to destroying crops and homes.
The storm was the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land since 2007, reaching the category of a “super typhoon” due to its sustained wind speeds reaching over 150 mph. Although the super typhoon proved less deadly than a similar cyclone that killed more than 100 Philippines residents earlier this year, its effects for survivors may prove to be greater.
Fr. Val Dimoc, a priest in the Cordillera mountain region, observed the cyclone's effects upon crops in the northern region of Luzon. He described how “upland rice farmers who planted in early July were about to harvest, but their crops have been blown down by the wind.”
Joe Curry, a representative for CRS in the Philippines, noted the danger that flooding poses to residents and their property, stating that the charity is at work securing access to affected areas following the storm's departure. The agency plans to collaborate with local dioceses as well as Caritas Philippines.
Arnaldo Arcadio, the emergency program manager for CRS, described a dramatic ordeal as the extraordinarily powerful storm passed through, describing how he and other CRS workers “took refuge in the parish when the winds were strong and the rain was battering down.”
Arcadio and other relief coordinators and workers were eventually able to return to the city of Baguio, to begin the immense task of distributing emergency supplies and providing shelter for those left homeless. CRS expects to be occupied for months helping to provide items like cookware, food, and soap, as well as clearing away debris and rebuilding houses in the northern Philippines.