SurfAid has launched an appeal to assist the Filipino people in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda. Billabong and the Quiksilver Foundation have already pledged $5,000 each. Both were lead donors in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which was SurfAid’s first emergency response after being established in 2000.
The Philippines Government estimates that the super typhoon has affected more than 13 million people (including 5.4 million children), and 4.4 million people have been displaced from their homes by one of the strongest storms ever to make landfall.
Typhoon Haiyan first hit land in the coastal town of Guiuan, in Eastern Samar, devastating all in its path. Photo courtesy of Michelle So.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that over one million houses are damaged or destroyed, and an initial rapid assessment estimates that 80 to 90 per cent of schools in Aklan, Capiz and Iloilo provinces in the Western Visayas are damaged or destroyed.
With the scale of the disaster and the logistical challenges, SurfAid CEO Andrew Judge said the organisation has been establishing key local partnerships before appealing to donors.
“Local networks and on-the-ground capacity will ensure that we can be a channel for the surf community to make a valuable contribution to an effective response,” Judge said.
After the typhoon struck on Friday 8 November, Indonesian staff of Johanniter, a German organisation closely linked to the St John network, approached SurfAid Country Director Anne Wuijts about a possible collaboration in the Philippines. Johanniter works on health promotion in Sumatra in parallel with SurfAid's work in the Mentawai and Nias islands.
Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever to hit land. The coastal town of Guiuan. Photo courtesy of Michelle So.
“Initially we are planning to support Filipino partners through Johanniter,” Wuijts said. “They have an excellent emergency response reputation, are on the ground, and are already providing medical assistance and supplies through established local networks.”
Jutta Meissner, Head of Desk Southeast Asia for Johanniter International Assistance, said: "We are already distributing food and shelter packages through our local partner on the islands Leyte and Panay. The need is huge. So we are very happy to get more support through SurfAid."
SurfAid has previously worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF Belgium) in a similar emergency response partnership.
Andrew Judge said that after SurfAid had supported the initial response the organisation plans to bring experienced staff from Indonesia to deliver assistance to surfing areas and will address key health issues at the community level, including disease prevention and hygiene and sanitation.
“The need on the ground will determine the exact locations.” Judge said. “Our experience indicates that in a disaster of this scale, smaller coastal communities will likely miss out on assistance that flows to the larger population centres.”
You can donate to the SurfAid Philippines Appeal at surfaid.org/philippines
In the US, you can also text SURFAID to 85944 to donate $10 to the SurfAid Philippines Appeal. Top photo caption: The remains of Calicoan Surf Camp. Besides sustained winds of 237 km/h (147 mph) Typhoon Haiyan also produced a 5m (15 foot) storm surge. Photo courtesy of Michelle So.