Urgent Appeal: Support Communities Affected by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut)

19 September 2018

On Sept. 14, 2018, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year struck Northern Luzon and left widespread destruction in its wake. Ompong (Mangkhut) was a category 5 super typhoon with maximum sustained winds of up to 285 kph. It had a diameter of up to 900 km. and affected the whole of Northern Luzon. Most hard hit was Cagayan, where it first made landfall, and the Cordillera provinces of Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra and Mountain Province. The toll of Typhoon Ompong was disastrous, especially since the same areas were still recovering from the impacts two-month long monsoon rains.

The damages left by Typhoon Ompong in the Cordillera were extreme and extensive and are debilitating for the largely farming population. Reports indicate that approximately 400,000 persons were affected. Most affected communities include Itogon, Benguet, municipalities along the Chico River in Kalinga and Mt. Province, Abra, and upland communities of Kalinga and Conner in Apayao.

As of Septemer 19, 2018, the region’s death toll has mounted to 68, with 32 injured and 68 still missing. Deaths have been due to landslides, drowning and being hit by falling debris.

Some 119 landslides were recorded, the deadliest landslide occurring in Itogon, Benguet, which buried several houses, an old bunkhouse of the Benguet Corporation Inc. and a chapel. Rescue operations and retrieval of bodies are still ongoing.

Vital roads and bridges linking upland communities to town centers were destroyed causing days of isolation for some. Aside from that, communication lines were also taken down. At present, there is still no cellular signal in majority of Kalinga, Benguet and Abra making communication and data gathering difficult.

Massive damage to agriculture is experienced in all provinces of the Cordillera. Entire rice fields and vegetable gardens were buried in landslides, flooded or washed out. Damage to crops such as corn, banana, coffee, vegetables and fruit trees was reported in the different provinces. There were also cases of livestock being swept away by strong river current. Agricultural damage in the region is estimated at 2 billion pesos.

Majority of the farmers are still reeling from the impacts of sustained monsoon rains so immediate food supply is limited and food shortage is a threat in some areas. Recovery of agriculture will entail years as it will take at least 5 years for coffee and 2 years for banana to recover. Rice shortage is expected to last for at least one year.

Government’s relief efforts were swift but not able to reach all of the affected population. Until today, families have yet to receive any assistance, are hungry, continue to be isolated, are living in makeshift houses, have yet to return to their homes.

The Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services Inc. (CorDisRDS) and its’ partner peoples’ organizations conducted assessment activities covering most of the affected areas. Taking into account the results of the assessment, the needs, capacities, and gaps, we propose to respond to the situation.

CorDisRDS is targeting to raise funds for planned emergency response and early recovery activities. This will enable us to address the immediate needs of some of the most affected areas in the region. The aim is to provide access to food, temporary shelter materials such as plastic sheets, livelihood inputs such as seeds and farm tools and longer term livelihood assistance to help communities recover.

We now urgently appeal to you for assistance to help the disaster survivors rise up from this situation to rebuild their lives.

For more information and inquiries please contact Mr. Jimmy Khayog, executive director of CorDisRDS (+639088891288) or email us at cordisrds@gmail.com.

In case of cash donations, please deposit to the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services Inc. Bank Account: No. 10183029572 (dollar account) or 001830295797 (peso account), Banco de Oro Universal Bank.

We thank you very much and look forward to your positive response to this urgent appeal.