The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding to three powerful cyclonic storms that are blasting the US east coast, northern Philippines, and the Lower Antilles in the Caribbean with strong winds and heavy rains, affecting millions and forcing many to evacuate.
“Our emergency team has been tracking these storms closely for several days, and has been pre-positioning aid, coordinating with partners, and deploying response teams to be ready to assist communities as quickly as possible,” said Mario Oliveira, director for emergency management at ADRA International.
All three storms—Hurricane Florence in the U.S., Super Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines, and Tropical Storm Isaac in the Caribbean—have the potential to cause significant devastation, according to ADRA emergency officials. A fourth storm, Hurricane Helene, is expected to head toward the United Kingdom, meteorologists are predicting.
“We cannot underestimate the power of these storms,” said Mr Oliveira. “As we have seen in the past, they can devastate entire communities and cause havoc. This is why at ADRA we aim to work as swiftly as possible with our teams and our partners to ensure a fast response, and to mitigate the impact of these storms.”
Hurricane Florence – United States
Hurricane Florence made landfall early Friday morning in the Carolinas blowing ashore with howling 145 km/h winds. Casualties have been reported, thousands are already without power and hundreds of people have been rescued, with many more other rescues underway according to news reports.
ADRA is working closely with several emergency response partners, including Adventist Community Services (ACS), Partners for Humanity (P4H), and Latter-Day Charities (LDS) to provide funding and other support. ADRA is also working with ACS to continue monitoring Florence and is in talks to provide emergency assistance after the storm passes.
Typhoon Mangkhut – Philippines
Super Typhoon Mangkhut, a category 5 storm, made landfall in the Cagayan-Isabela area in the northern island of Luzon on Saturday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), dumping heavy rain and flooding in the region.
ADRA’s office in the Philippines deployed a rapid response team yesterday, hours before Super Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall.
“Due to the critical storm level, ADRA has deployed an emergency response team to the Isabella province who as of now has been working with three local church missions and government authorities to help prepare thousands of families and assess community needs,” said Mr Oliveira.
Mangkhut is projected to impact Hong Kong and China after passing over the northern Philippines.
Tropical Storm Isaac – Caribbean
With maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h, Tropical Storm Isaac is anticipated to move slowly across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea and expected to weaken during the next few days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, ADRA is on alert and monitoring the storm.
ADRA emergency officials are urging everyone facing these storms to follow alerts from local emergency officials, to pay attention to any official information that is released to the public, and be cautious and alert as safety for all involved in the natural disasters is of highest priority.
“One can never be exactly sure when a disaster appears, but they will come, and we have to be ready,” said Mr Oliveira. “The key in any emergency is to prepare ahead of the storm.”