Beatrice Weber my line manager from Swiss Red Cross, Alexander Steifert and I leave tomorrow for Coron, northern Palawan (photo above) where the Philippine Red Cross, supported by us, are arranging for a major shelter and cash distribution to typhoon affected people.
During the past week, we have shipped Corrugated Iron sheeting (20,000 sheets) and shelter repair kits from Cebu and Manila to Coron by sea. Now the big challenge remains, getting the relief goods by boat out to remoter island like Culion. Daniel Nash, our logistics delegate, is out there now battling tides. He wrote this.
“As I write the tide will have risen to the point where the vessel carrying the 500 kits can dock and the materials subsequently loaded.
There will be four PRC volunteers accompanying us to Culion port where a team of off-loaders will help us to store the materials in an area that will be easy to transit them to their final destinations which will now only be accessible via Banka (or small locally built tri-marans).
Insofar as tides are concerned, they greatly affect the ability to dock. On Culion itself, the port is fairly shallow with corals all around, therefore heavier cargo loads will only be able to offload during higher tides. Taking this into consideration, there is a schedule of the tides which we will obtain so that we can ultimately, optimize logistics and travel.
The typhoon destroyed or damaged many houses on Culion.
As you may already be aware, we will take this opportunity to geolocate points of interest for potential operations beyond mere distributions: suppliers, markets, ports, ship transport options (bankas, larger vessels) related costs/schedules for passenger/cargo, emergency evacuation options, health centers/hospitals (services, capacities, contacts), Local Government Units (LGUs), actors (activities, contacts), fuel costs/supply channels, banks, communication assessments, land vehicle rentals and flight options (for medevac and travel / transport). All of these we will not be able to cover given the constraints for time but will be in our minds with each visit so that we have better contextual understanding of the island municipality of Culion. Photo below.
I think that in a relatively short period, we will have a fairly clear picture of the overall context after locating and "inventorying" the available resources, constraints and potential opportunities for future operations.
I hope that this give some insight into what I would like to see happen, that may eventually translate into accurate analyses and decisions about what we may or may not be able to do in this region."