Tropical Storm Washi slams Philippines

UPDATE: World Vision relief efforts are underway in the aftermath of the weekend storm, which killed hundreds and left many more missing. Our teams plan to reach thousands of surviving families with water, food, hygiene products, and more.

Published December 18, 2011 at 12:00am PST

“The focus now is on providing water and simple foods to children and families,” said World Vision aid worker John Salva from hard-hit Cagayan de Oro. “People are walking in the streets with no shoes, their clothes muddied, carrying containers trying to find sources of water.”

World Vision relief teams have mobilized to provide 5,000 families in Cagayan de Oro with drinking water, rice, biscuits, and canned goods, as well as emergency items like hygiene kits with soap, blankets, sleeping mats, cooking pots, and utencils.

In addition, World Vision will distribute vouchers worth about U.S. $35 to the 5,000 families so they can buy additional food and replace critical everyday items they may have lost in the flooding or mudslides. Distributions to another 5,000 families in Iligan is also being planned.

(You can make a donation here to assist World Vision’s response.)

Hundreds more missing

Thousands of survivors are in evacuation centers, but some families have returned to their houses because the centers are congested, World Vision relief teams reported.

The number of casualties could climb higher, the aid teams warned, as the number of missing is in the hundreds.

Salva reported that the mud left behind by the storm could pose a major challenge as relief efforts move forward.

A mother comforts her child in the wake of the storm's landfall in the Philippines.“The mud that has covered the roads and filled people’s homes is a real concern as we look toward the recovery phase,”  said Salva. “In some areas, the mud is up to people’s knees; in other areas, up to their waists.”

Some survivors have begun trying to clean out their houses, but the lack of access to water is a major hindrance for clean-up work.

A focus on child well-being

“Children’s needs will remain World Vision’s top focus in our relief efforts,” added Salva, whose aid teams are planning to set up a Child-Friendly Space to provide the youngest survivors with a safe place to play. World Vision also plans to distribute school supplies to some 10,000 school children.

Meanwhile, there are reports of people being recovered from the shore in nearby municipalities, as they were swept away. As some people are sighted floating from the shore, village people are asking for fuel for their boats so they can rescue the people who are holding on to debris.

Help now

Make a one-time gift to World Vision’s Disaster Response Fund. Your donation will help us respond quickly and effectively with life-saving assistance in the aftermath of sudden-onset emergencies around the world, like this recent tropical storm in the Philippines.

Please keep in prayer the children, families, and communities of the southern Philippines, as they cope with the extreme loss and devastation left behind by Tropical Storm Washi.