Typhoon Rai: 1.5 million houses devastated in the Philippines

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Red Cross says as much as $22m is needed to support more than 400,000 people over the next two years.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimates Super Typhoon Rai destroyed or damaged a “staggering” number of houses as it tore across the Philippines in December, leaving more than 400 people dead.

In an update on Tuesday, the IFRC said its assessments indicated the storm destroyed or damaged “a staggering 1.5 million houses, more than any other typhoon in recent decades”.

Rai, with winds of up to 193 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour), made landfall in the country’s surfing capital of Siargao, a tiny island in eastern Mindanao with a population of roughly 180,000 people.

According to the provincial government, more than 90 percent of the buildings on the island, including schools and town halls, were severely damaged.

The entire island has been without power ever since and remains reliant on electric generators that provide limited supply, while many of its residents are living in makeshift structures and even evacuation centers.

In one small village of Cangcohoy, inland from Siargao, 15 families continue to shelter in a school building after their homes were destroyed, according to the ANC, a Filipino cable news channel. Many of those families also lost their livelihoods, and they have been relying on aid, mostly from private donors, to survive.

The IFRC said the needs remained immense.

“It’s a little over one month since Typhoon Rai slammed into the Philippines, yet millions of people still urgently need humanitarian support, including homes, clean water supplies and healthcare,” IFRC country head Alberto Bocanegra said in a statement.

“This Super Typhoon has caused enormous devastation, destroying or damaging more homes than any storm in recent decades.”

Compared with 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,000 people dead, Rai left a much wider path of destruction, hitting several major islands including Bohol, Cebu, Negros, and Palawan.

According to estimates, the damage left by Rai could be as much as $790m.

“This is a much bigger disaster than the world realized a month ago,” said Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon, who is also a senator.

“People who relied on farming, fishing and tourism can’t earn an income now. Millions of people don’t have a roof over their heads.”

 

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