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Gordon leads Red Cross Assessment Team in Northern Samar areas hardest hit by Typhoon Nona, relief distribution

A composite team from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) went to Northern Samar on Saturday to assess the damage wrought by typhoon Nona.

PRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon led IFRC’s Ramsey Rayyis, ICRC’s Daniel Puillet-Breton and other executive officers and staff in going around the Municipalities of Catarman and Bobon, both among the hardest hit areas in Northern Samar.

The visit aimed to assess the damage in the areas in order to determine what humanitarian assistance should be provided to help the communities recover from the onslaught of the typhoon.

“We sent several teams here immediately after all communications was lost at the height of the typhoon. They already sent initial reports on what were initially needed and we immediately provided hot meals, medical assistance and we set up welfare desks in various evacuation centers,” Gordon noted.

“We went there over the weekend, together with delegates from the IFRC and the ICRC, so we can see the extent of the damage and to make an assessment as to how we can assist the communities so they can get back on their feet. We intend to visit the other provinces affected to get a more comprehensive assessment,” he added.

Gordon and the team consulted with provincial and municipal officials and other officials of concerned government agencies to evaluate the damage to houses, schools, livelihood, among others, assuring them that heavy equipment such as pay loaders will be deployed immediately to clear debris.

“We launched a humanitarian appeal for communities affected by Typhoon Nona. Though we have yet to assess other provinces on its path, we have already received reports that hundreds of thousands of houses made from light materials were destroyed, schools and health facilities were damaged and livelihood were also damaged. We do not want this to be another forgotten disaster,” he said.

Gordon and the foreign delegates also led the distribution of relief packs for 275 families at the Daganas Elementary School in Barangay Daganas, Catarman. For their part, the foreign delegates assured that they will immediately report their assessment to the head office in Geneva, Switzerland in order to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance.

As of 8 am on December 21, the PRC Operations Center reported that Nona affected at least 14 provinces, namely: Northern Samar, Sorsogon, Albay-Legaspi, Mindoro Oriental, Romblon, Palawan, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Western Samar, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Catanduanes, Aurora, and Bulacan. The report also said an estimated 3.5-million people or 438.369 families in 149 municipalities were affected.