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Catanduanes Seeks Help, Thousands of Homes Destroyed by Rolly

It could take months to restore electricity.
by Agence France Presse
Nov 4, 2020
A woman sifts through the rubble of a house that was leveled by Super Typhoon Rolly in this handout photo released on Nov. 3, 2020.
Photo/s: Philippine Coast Guard
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It could take months to restore power to Catanduanes, a Philippine island of 260,000 people devastated by the country's most powerful typhoon this year, the Red Cross said.

Eight towns on Catanduanes were cut off and an estimated 25,000 houses destroyed by Super Typhoon Rolly, which was packing winds of 225 kph when it slammed into the island Sunday before sweeping across southern Luzon.

Robert Kaufman, country head for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told AFP there are no telecoms services on the island and it could take months to restore power.

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Emergency personnel were trying to reach eight towns that have been cut off by landslides, Kaufman said after a flying visit.  

"Building after building, house after house... if it's not destroyed it's damaged," Kaufman said.

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"Many people, who were already hanging on by a thread, now their livelihood is really turned upside down and they will need support."

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Ferocious winds and torrential rain destroyed at least 25,000 homes on the island and damaged another 45,000, he said, but the numbers are expected to rise. 

Rolly came a week after Typhoon Quinta roared through the same region, where resources had already been stretched by the coronavirus outbreak. 

At least 19 people were killed by Goni as it crossed the Philippines, including five on Catanduanes and 13 in nearby Albay province on Luzon, Civil Defense said, revising down an earlier toll of 20. 

The number of injured was 69 -- the majority on Catanduanes.

"The situation is both heartbreaking and also hopeful," said Kaufman, who also inspected the damage in Albay where volcanic mudslides buried scores of homes.

"There was a lot of devastation... but one thing that I saw is an incredibly resilient population."

Around 400,000 people were evacuated ahead of the typhoon which, Kaufman said, "saved lives".

Many are still displaced after around 100,000 houses in Goni's path were damaged or destroyed 

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"They have a lot of experience with large-scale storms, with catastrophic typhoons... people knew to vacate the area and take shelter in evacuation centres."

Many of the deaths were people who had left shelters before the typhoon had passed, he said. 

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