Typhoon Goni Flash Update 1
Massive precautionary evacuations are underway in several areas in the Philippines ahead of the potentially devasting onslaught of this year’s strongest tropical cyclone. The Philippines Government has directed the pre- emptive and mandatory evacuations of residents along the typhoon’s path in southern and central Luzon, areas still reeling from the effects of multiple tropical cyclones in the past three weeks. Typhoon Goni – locally known as Rolly – intensified overnight and is now packing maximum sustained winds of 215 km/h and gustiness of up to 265 km/h. The Philippines weather bureau, PAGASA, warns that violent winds and intense rainfall will be felt beginning Sunday morning in southern and central Luzon, including the national capital Metro Manila. Cyclone warning signal #3 has been raised for Catanduanes province, where the typhoon is expected to make landfall on the morning of 1 November (local time). It will track west-southwest crossing the provinces of Camarines and Quezon, reaching southern Luzon and Metro Manila before entering the West Philippines Sea early Monday morning. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) pre-disaster information, an estimated 19.8 million people live within the 60 kilometers diameter of typhoon’s path, 1.3 million of which are considered poor, and could be significantly affected by its impact. The weather system is expected to weaken as it traverses over land. Authorities warn that rain-induced flooding and landslides may occur during heavy and prolonged rainfall. The expected heavy volume of rainfall could also generate volcanic sediment flows or lahars in the active volcanoes of Mayon, Pinatubo, and Taal. Storm surges of between three to five meters also pose risks on the eastern seaboard and in the western coastal areas, including in Manila.
Compounding effects of COVID-19
The Department of Health continues to reiterate the observance of strict health protocols in evacuation centres to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. The health department also ordered the immediate transfer of COVID-19 patients who are currently quarantined in medical tents to more secure facilities ahead of the typhoon’s arrival.
Government measures put in place
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has stood up the Response Cluster led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to monitor the situation and agree preparedness and response efforts. Regional DRRM councils are overseeing the pre-positioning of relief supplies, personal protective equipment, and heavy machinery for clearing operations. The NDRRMC has also directed the regional councils to be ready to support local government units in the management of a possible extended evacuation. Local authorities spent Saturday marshalling response teams and rescue vehicles to evacuate residents to safer ground. The regional Office of Civil Defense reported during the NDRRMC response preparedness meeting that close to a million people are projected to be evacuated in the Bicol Region alone.
HCT contingency and preparedness measures
The Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) convened in the morning of 31 October to discuss the readiness of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to assess the likely impact of the typhoon and plan for possible deployment of assessment teams in coordination with the Government.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator confirmed to the Government of the Philippines the readiness of the humanitarian community to lend support with humanitarian assistance if requested. Movement restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have limited the HCT’s ability to deploy staff present in the country, nonetheless, agencies with staff and local partners on the ground in areas along the typhoon’s path stand ready to coordinate and conduct assessments. OCHA is mapping the footprint of humanitarian and development partners in the affected areas with the intention to roll-out a remote impact assessment process, similar to the one conducted during the Typhoon Vongfong (Ambo) response in May this year. International Organization for Migration (IOM) has an agreement to support DSWD-led clusters through the provision of technical assistance in camp coordination and camp management, and development of referral pathways in the event of COVID-19 transmission in the evacuation centers. IOM in partnership with DSWD seeks donations of modular tents for use in evacuation centers. The Philippine Red Cross has alerted its disaster management services – through its local chapters – with rescue vehicles, logistics hubs, and medical teams on standby for relief assistance. IFRC has released a Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the operations of the national Red Cross. IFRC also informed that it is deploying a response team in Quezon province pending the release of PCR tests.