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Evacuation mitigates Typhoon Mirinae’s impact

Residents at this Manila suburb continue to struggle with stagnant flood waters in this suburban Manila district. The Philippines is now struggling to contain an outbreak of a deadly flood-borne disease caused by rat and other animal urine in the water th
Residents at this Manila suburb continue to struggle with stagnant flood waters in this suburban Manila district. (Jason Gutierrez/IRIN)

Aid workers credit a pre-emptive evacuation of more than 115,000 residents for this weekend’s minimal loss of life from Typhoon Mirinae.



Sixteen deaths were recorded in suburban areas south of Manila and in two eastern provinces, although the heavy rains and strong winds further exacerbated the humanitarian situation for tens of thousands left homeless by two earlier devastating cyclones, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported on 2 November.



With gusts of up to 185km/hr, Mirinae cut a westwards swathe across Luzon Island on 31 October before exiting into the South China Sea a day later.



The state weather bureau said Mirinae would likely hit Vietnam on 2 November.



"We were thankful that the public listened to authorities. People are now more aware of what to do after Ketsana and Parma," Philippine National Red Cross secretary-general, Gwendolyn Pang, told IRIN, adding that authorities had already managed to restore power to most of the 22 towns hit by the storm.



Ketsana dumped a month's worth of rain on Manila and outlying areas when it hit land on 26 September, causing the area's worst flooding in over 40 years.



A week later, Parma pummelled northern Luzon for a week. Typhoon Lupit changed course at the last minute on 24 October, providing a break for storm-weary rescuers and a government whose disaster response mechanism has been pushed to the limit by the storms that affected more than eight million people.
























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While many of those evacuated by the earlier storms had returned home, Pang said relief operations would continue for 87,467 people still crammed into makeshift shelters around Manila and in surrounding provinces.



But with many flood survivors returning to their partly submerged homes, authorities have warned of more disease outbreaks. Government has recorded 167 deaths due to Leptospirosis - a flood-borne disease caused by infection from flood waters contaminated by rat and other animal urine – in addition to 929 deaths due to devastation wrought by Ketsana and Parma.



Reconstruction



"We are now shifting relief operations to early recovery planning and reconstruction. We need to develop a residential plan for those left homeless by the floods," Pang said, noting, however, that disaster relief officials have said many areas, especially near lakes, reservoirs and rivers, would likely remain under water into 2010.



Ida Mae Fernandez, regional project officer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the agency was working on "multiple targets" to include the displaced in evacuation centres, as well as families who had stayed in their flooded homes.



"We will implement reconstruction and repair activities on basic public infrastructure, as well as repair of houses," she said.












Manila - A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila. At least 246 people were killed by tropical storm Ketsana on 26 September

A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila.
Jason Gutierrez/IRIN
Manila - A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila. At least 246 people were killed by tropical storm Ketsana on 26 September
http://www.irinnews.org/photo/
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Graves dégâts dans les rizières suite aux fortes inondations
Manila - A father carries his daughter on his back as they wade through putrid, brown flood water in suburban Pasig district in Manila. At least 246 people were killed by tropical storm Ketsana on 26 September


Photo: Jason Gutierrez/IRIN
Hundreds have died following a wave of tropical storms to hit the country

"Also, we are gearing up to work with the Department of Health and the World Health Organization to fast-track health mitigation activities.



"Coordination of actions will be important, and IOM will focus on areas that have difficult access to ready humanitarian aid," Fernandez said.



The NDCC said Typhoon Mirinae left "remarkably less damage to lives and properties" than Ketsana and Parma.



"This is largely attributed to the pre-emptive efforts conducted by the national and local governments through the NDCC and their local counterparts, and the pre-positioning of government assets and relief items in areas which were to have been hit by the typhoon," it stated.



Residents in the direct path of Mirinae were easier to convince to leave their properties than those affected by the previous storms.



"Cooperation among all sectors is truly the best tool we must have in disaster preparation or disaster response," it stated. "We hope the lessons we learned from these past tragedies will remain with everyone, to allow for better disaster preparation and better disaster responses."



President Gloria Arroyo personally led disaster relief officials in the inspection of water levels in flood-ways around Manila and to warn residents against staying there as Mirinae was lashing the city.



Arroyo called on authorities to evacuate residents from the Lupang Arenda resettlement site in Taytay District, east of Manila. The president talked to the residents, many of whom were waiting for the waters to subside so they could salvage what was left of their belongings.



The 200ha site was originally designated a protected wetlands by the government, but in recent years has been overrun by informal settlers - a situation repeated in many other areas around Manila, exposing government's poor urban planning, which has been blamed by environmentalists for the massive flooding.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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