Panay, Philippines, 15 December 2014 - They all slept well. That was the first thing heard from many in the community when the UN-Habitat Roxas field team visited their project sites one day after Typhoon Hagupit (known locally as Ruby) passed north of the island of Panay on Sunday, 7 December, barely over a year since Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, devastated the region.
Nearly 90 houses built under the Post-Yolanda Support for Safer Homes and Settlements, a project by UN-Habitat and the Japanese and Philippine governments, served as emergency shelters, housing two to three families at times, protecting them from the strong winds and rains of Hagupit that lasted almost two days. The core houses provided not only shelter but more importantly, a sense of security and peace of mind. This time, community members with completed core houses said, they did not have to worry about losing their homes or their roof getting blown away and were able to invite those whose core houses were still under construction to take refuge with them.
The communities were also well-prepared. Technical supervisors from UN-Habitat visited the project areas before the storm to help residents prepare. With the assistance of the project’s trained construction workers, the windows of all the houses were covered with plywood or CGI roofing materials nailed to the frame so no water would come in. The houses―both completed and mid-construction―withstood the rains and wind, and no damage was reported. While the technical supervisors provided physical assistance, the community organizers of UN-Habitat provided mental support by keeping in touch with and monitoring the safety of community members via constant text messaging during and after the typhoon.
Life was back to normal when the UN-Habitat team visited the communities, workers were back at the housing construction sites, people were putting Christmas decorations back on their walls, and kids were playing around their future homes.