Philippines: Tropical Depression Usman Flash Update No. 1 (4 January 2019)

Tropical Depression Usman, which made landfall near Borongan, Eastern Samar, on 29 December, began affecting the country on 28 December as it enhanced the northeast monsoon, bringing heavy rain across the southern Luzon and eastern Visayas regions for several days, which triggered multiple landslides and widespread flooding. Intermittent rains from the northeast monsoon continue to hamper debris removal and body retrieval operations, while also raising the risk of new landslides in the affected regions.

SagAay, Camarines Sur, is one of the most affected communities, where 46 people died from landslides. Water, sanitation and hygiene is a priority need in SagAay. Local authorities report their food relief supplies will be exhausted in one week. Camp management and emergency shelter for the 700 evacuated households is also a concern.

Estimated agricultural losses continue to rise, reaching PHP816 million (USD15.5 million), with nearly 37,000 farmers and fisherfolk affected, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). More than 18,600 metric tons of rice, corn and high-value crops and 40,000 hectares of farmland are estimated to be affected.

Government response and humanitarian coordination

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which leads the humanitarian response, reports more than 480,000 people across 14 provinces have been affected by the storm. Nearly 60 per cent of those are located in Region V, primarily in Camarines Sur. DSWD figures now show evacuation centres are beginning to close as people return to their homes: from a peak of 536 shelters, 117 remain open, hosting 57,300 people.

Another 83,500 people have already left evacuation centres. The number of people staying with relatives or friends is beginning to decline, from a peak of 220,800 to 158,200.

The DSWD Region V field office is gathering documents from families with storm-related casualties to provide cash assistance for burial and medical expenses. DSWD reports P9.2 million ($1.8 million) in assistance has been provided to date by local authorities, NGOs and DSWD. It plans to conduct a post-disaster evaluation in the coming days to determine the extent of recovery and rehabilitation assistance needed. Local authorities are providing mutual aid in the form of manpower to assist in debris removal, retrieval of the dead and delivery of relief goods to affected populations.

Food security and agriculture cluster members are monitoring the situation and are standing by for formal requests for assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA), DSWD and other relevant agencies to support the delivery of assistance. FAO is providing information management services and supporting DA in conducting assessments to verify agricultural impacts and losses. National and international NGOs with ongoing operations in Region V are also conducting local assessments and, with local chapters of the Red Cross, continue to provide relief goods and services to affected communities.

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

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