By James Bolton
Published Date: November 19, 2020, Rotary in Britain and Ireland website
ShelterBox provides emergency shelter and other life-saving equipment to people displaced by disaster or humanitarian crisis around the world.
Storms are causing havoc all over the world. For ShelterBox this has always been a busy time of year, but right now they are busier than ever. Their teams are working at full capacity across a number of new and emerging disasters.
In the Philippines there have been 6 named storms since October, including 3 typhoons in the last 3 weeks. According to the Philippines Red Cross the series of weather events hitting the Philippines is the worst the country has seen for 40 years.
Just 10 days after Super Typhoon Goni, which was the strongest Philippines storm since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Typhoon Vamco brought yet more devastation, as it moved along a similar path. Flooding again hit parts of Catanduanes and Bicol regions, forcing more evacuations.
The provincial governor of Catanduanes has said that response efforts are back to zero as house repairs and temporary shelters were again destroyed. Whole towns have been submerged and thousands of families are currently being rescued. Around 320,000 people have been displaced.
As soon as it’s safe, ShelterBox will assess the additional damage and the delivery of vital aid can resume. ShelterBox is working on plans to support 15,000 people with emergency shelter kits, household essentials and solar lights.
Meanwhile communities in Central America, still reeling from Category 4 Hurricane Eta, were battered by Hurricane Iota this week. Iota is the 13th and strongest hurricane in a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, which has seen 30 named storms so far.
ShelterBox is already working to help families in Honduras who have lost their homes to Hurricane Eta, where 3 million people were caught in its destructive path. Flooding and landslides have cut off more than 103,000 people across 69 communities.
Over 55,000 people are reported to be staying in temporary collective centres in Honduras, a number that is likely to rise. The situation is desperate in many countries across Central America, with a true picture still emerging as search and rescue efforts continue.
ShelterBox is focusing its resources on Honduras as initial assessments indicate that it looks to be the worst affected by Hurricane Eta and ShelterBox has strong contacts with partners and Rotary clubs in the country. Whilst conditions across the region remain challenging, and damage assessments and aid delivery remain very difficult, ShelterBox is in daily contact to understand where and how best they can help.
ShelterBox is mobilising all emergency shelter stocks currently stored in their warehouses in the Philippines and Panama. They will need to urgently re-stock so that they are ready for future disasters.
On top of violent hurricanes and typhoons, families are also facing the deadly threat of coronavirus. These latest disasters?will make conditions significantly worse for millions of people.? Despite governments doing their best, the virus could spiral out of control if people stay in crowded evacuation centres or with host families for too long.
ShelterBox have continued to support families throughout the global pandemic, while disaster relief has become more difficult – travel restrictions, spiraling freight costs and strict protocols for humanitarian cargo, including disinfection and quarantine, have all been overcome.
The need for ShelterBox’s work has never been greater. They are overcoming obstacles to reach families caught up in the recent storms, whilst also working to support families all around the world including Syria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and India.