Philippine Typhoon Survivors Say Food Is Running Out

By Reuters
December 21, 2021 Updated: December 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Officials and residents of areas in the Philippines that bore the brunt of Typhoon Rai pleaded for food, water, and shelter on Dec. 21 as damaged roads, flooding, and severed power and communication lines hampered relief efforts.

Rai, the strongest typhoon to hit the archipelago this year, struck on Dec. 16, killing nearly 400 people and affecting 1.8 million, displacing 630,000 of them, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Our food supply is running low. Maybe, in a few days, we will totally run out,” said Fely Pedrablanca, the mayor of Tubajon town on Dinagat Island. The area, which faces the Pacific Ocean, was devastated by the typhoon, with just nine of more than 2,000 homes in her town left standing, she said.

The coast guard has deployed vessels to help in relief work and in trying to reach areas still cut off, while the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) planned to ferry people to safety, including foreign tourists stranded on the vacation island of Siargao.

Philippine Coast Guard personnel unload packs of relief goods for victims of Typhoon Rai, in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, on Dec. 21, 2021. (Philippine Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters)

“We’re fighting a tremendous disaster. It’s Haiyan all over again,” PRC Chairman Richard Gordon told Reuters, referring to one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, which killed 6,300 people in the Philippines in 2013.

In the province of Southern Leyte, evacuation centers were also destroyed, said Roger Mercado, acting chief of the public works agency, as he appealed for tents and construction material.

Damage to infrastructure in Southern Leyte, where residents were also in desperate need of food and water, could reach 3 billion pesos ($60.14 million), Mercado told DZMM radio.

At least 375 people were killed and 56 are missing. More than 500 were injured, police said on Dec. 21.

“The government prepositioned food and non-food items but they are not enough because many are in need,” Danilo Atienza, Southern Leyte’s disaster chief, told Reuters.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 20 ordered state agencies to restore power and communications as he promised 10 billion pesos ($200 million) for recovery efforts.

Foreign aid has also started to arrive, while the United Nations said it was working with partners to help in the areas of shelter, health, food, protection, and other life-saving responses.

By Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema