Responding to Typhoon Rai

When Typhoon Rai hit the Philippines just days before Christmas in 2021, it destroyed homes and livelihoods. Thanks to your support, nearly 100,000 people were able to use ShelterBox aid to pave the road to their recovery.

Let’s take a look at our response more closely.

Super Typhoon Rai was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines in 2021.

High windspeeds of 195kph caused widespread devastation. They destroyed more than half a million homes across the archipelago of islands.

As the storm made landfall, tens of thousands of people evacuated to stay in collective facilities or with friends and family.

“No, we didn’t know [Rai was coming]. We didn’t even leave our house right away. By around 7pm I did not think it was going to get worse because the wind kept subsiding. By 9pm it became worse, it was like my house was dancing in the wind.

That’s when we evacuated to our neighbours house. We were running, it was so dark. We were very frightened, our house was already shaking. I thought we would die if we stayed there, we could have been crushed by the roof.”

– Moises

A response led by the community


When the storm subsided, people returned to their homes to see what was left and assess the damage. People were quick to use what they could find to make temporary shelters.

They salvaged materials from the wreckage and made simple makeshift structures. Gnarled bits of corrugated iron were bent into shape and crudely fixed to frames constructed from the debris. People repurposed rice bags and signage boards to form walls and roofs.

“There was nothing left. All of the roofs were gone. We made a temporary shelter out of the salvaged materials that we were able to retrieve. It was very hard. It was hard when we were asleep and it suddenly rained, we all got very wet. We didn’t have any walls, it was all gone.”

– Rowell

Barriers to recovery

The path to recovery isn’t a simple one. Take a look at what barriers people had to overcome to recover after Typhoon Rai:

Taking difficult decisions


After a disaster like a typhoon, people prioritise their needs. When people have basic shelter, they can look to find food and water, farming and work. And they can also start providing support to the rest of their community.

But with this prioritisation comes sacrifice. Homes may not be big enough for the whole family, or leak because of the building materials. As people in the Philippines focused on reaching the next phase in their journey of recovery, it meant they had to make difficult decisions.

“My wife’s in Manila working. She’s working there to support us with our daily needs. It’s been a long time. My kind of factory work does not pay much. It was only good for our food consumption. It was hard because we can’t afford to rebuild our house.

“My wife can earn more in Manila. At first it was hard but in time I got used to it already. She has not come home ever since she left in January. We talk on the phone every week.”

– Rowell

Coronavirus


The Filipino response to Covid-19 differed little from countries in Europe and the Americas, but without the social welfare system that some countries had in place.

Successive lockdowns not only affected people’s freedom of movement, but also their ability to earn an income. This stretched household finances, and people were already using their savings when Typhoon Rai hit and destroyed thousands of homes.

“Ever since the pandemic there are not many buyers in the market and sales are not good. We were not allowed to go out and go to the market because we were senior citizens already. We let the driver of the truck bring our goods to the market and he will be the one to dispose and sell it. There are times that my crops won’t be paid right away. So we have to look for other ways to buy food and rice for the family. It was very hard for us because prices of commodities were very high and we do not have stable income.” – Antonia

It’s harder now compared to before. I have my two children here…my husband is jobless. Sometimes he can fish then sometimes he has no catch. It’s harder now. He cannot go back to the city to work. Others would say that he is not vaccinated, that is why he cannot work.” – Violeta

The War in Ukraine


Three months after Typhoon Rai, people were still dealing with the fallout of the storm. Then the war in Ukraine started. And it would impact their recovery journey.

“From the start of the pandemic until Typhoon Odette, our life has been in crisis, and it’s gotten harder because the price of the gasoline has increased because of the war in Ukraine. Our earnings are mostly spent to buy gasoline, and the little money we have left is for our family. We’re really on a tight budget. We just have vegetables to survive.” – Romnick

Inflation and financial uncertainty


With many people rebuilding, there was an increased demand for essential materials. That’s materials like plywood and Corrugated Galvanised Iron (CGI). Inevitably, this led to price increases in local markets.

People could buy less with their money, reducing the impact that their available finance had on recovery. In addition, there weren’t enough skilled labourers to meet the increasing demand. That’s people who, for example, mill coco lumber to make construction materials.

“The repair [on the house] stopped for the meantime because I don’t have enough materials. I am waiting for them to be complete but I can’t buy more for now. I only have six pieces of plywood. The plywood is so expensive now because of the typhoon – it has doubled in price.

“The hardware store owners are taking advantage of the situation because people really must buy materials to fix their houses. The price of lumber has also increased and will continue to do so. For people who don’t have much money, that’s what they use – it’s [coco lumber] the most accessible and affordable material to build a house.” – Felix

 

“Unfortunately, the price of CGI sheets has risen dramatically since Typhoon Rai. It is very expensive compared to the time before Rai. The price has doubled, but the quality is not good. Like this one here, if it were not fixed water would seep inside.

It’s very hard because we are jobless. Jobless because of Covid as our stocks in the store were not replenished. We were not able to go to the market because there are so many restrictions. Then it got worse when Rai came.” – Jesus

Social networks


Social support networks were critical to how people met their immediate and longer-term needs after Typhoon Rai.

Family members and friends provided loans or financial gifts. These enabled people to buy building materials, labour and expertise to help with repair and construction.

“My son started to fix [the roof] slowly since he is a carpenter. He was helped by my other sons. My three sons are carpenters. They were the ones fixed it. I have also another child living in Cagayan de Oro who is giving me money to buy food. When I get sick, she’s just one call away. She would send me money to buy medicine.” – Asteria

How shelter enabled the relief phase


ShelterBox supported around 19,000 families across the islands of Bohol and Cebu. People received items like tarpaulins and tools, but also training.

The aid items and training helped to improve living conditions in the weeks following the storm. We supported communities in weatherproofing homes, extending buildings or creating more stable structures.

 

“We were happy to receive the ShelterBox kit because we have solar light and especially the tarpaulin was very useful. Upon receiving the tarpaulin, we immediately installed it on our roof.” – Cecille

“We just transferred here after putting this up. My husband built it as a temporary shelter where we can sleep. We built it after receiving the tarpaulin. We used it as a roof. Some are the materials from our previous house. We are much better here, and we are glad that we have our own space. We all sleep here because it is more comfortable.” – Ginalyn