As soon as the tropical depression was spotted in the Pacific, it was already calculated that it was not going to be like any other hurricane that the Philippines have experienced before. Dubbed by reporters “twice as deadly as hurricane Sandy”, this category 5 typhoon had packing winds of 160 miles per hour. Philippine officials immediately sent out an alert to local agencies to prepare for evacuation to safer ground. Relief goods and medicines were requested for standby and a call was made to rescue workers and volunteers to be ready for emergency missions.
Flights were expected to be canceled and electricity was cut off as tropical storm Bopha hit. In villages, people were reported getting hit by falling trees and debris. Torrential rains washed away towns in flashfloods, wiping out fields and banana plantations. It became difficult for rescuers to reach the towns as landslides buried homes and floods blocked roads. People were reported to drown in floods in Compostela Valley, while mudslide in New Bataan killed an unknown number of villagers. Later, news was received that an evacuation area was hit by a flashflood brought by an overflowing lake, to the surprise of the shelter-seekers. School buildings were set up as evacuation centers but most of them did not withstand Bopha’s wrath, taking out roofs with her angry winds.
In the aftermath of the biggest typhoon seen in two decades, the body count has reached up to 650 confirmed deaths, hundreds of people still missing and thousands more homeless. Body recovery is under way in hard-hit isolated areas. Communications are still down and power is still out as electrical poles have fallen in Bohpa’s devastation. President Aquino has already ordered navy ships to take relief goods and supplies to Mindanao. Rescue teams immediately responded with sanitary kits and blankets.
Financial losses are now being assessed. Crop damages are now estimated to be around $210M or 8.5 billion pesos while the total is now up to $300M and is still expected to rise as construction and coastal farm losses have not yet been determined. Red Cross immediately appealed to its international network of donors an initial amount of $4.8 million.
Meanwhile, establishments are told not to increase prices for basic items like food, candles, batteries and survival items. The local government also ensured the availability of food to the victims. Filipinos from all the over the world are extending help by donating through various charities announced through television networks, Facebook and Twitter. More kind donations are coming from various international organizations for which the Filipinos are deeply grateful for.