Repairing and rebuilding in the Philippines

The Philippines is no stranger to natural disasters — on average, 20 typhoons buffet its islands each year. But the monster storm that struck on Nov. 8, 2013wreaked more havoc than any the country has seen in decades.

According to government reports, Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 5,900 people and damaged or destroyed nearly 1.2 million homes.

In response, Habitat Philippines distributed nearly 5,000 emergency shelter kits — tarps, hooks and ropes — in the two weeks after the storm, followed by shelter repair kits, which contain lumber, plywood, metal sheets, nails, hammers and saws.

By early December, 1,540 of these shelter repair kits had been distributed. Plans call for the delivery of up to 30,000 of these kits, depending on the availability of funding.

In the communities where Habitat has already distributed shelter repair kits, the sounds of hammering have filled the air as residents immediately went to work replacing roofs and walls — and, in some cases, building entirely new structures to replace ones that were wiped away.

Rennie Abulencia needed just three days to complete most of a new shelter in his hometown of Guiuan, where the typhoon first made landfall. He was working quickly, with help from his father and brother, so that his wife and sons could come back home from Manila.

Habitat has plans to help many more families like Abulencia’s.

“We are just getting started,” says Kip Scheidler, Habitat’s senior director for disaster risk reduction and response. “Habitat is committed to supporting these communities in their long-term recovery.”