Typhoon Odette Response – Responding to the Critical Need for Clean Water

Planet Water Foundation Emergency Response

Making its first landfall in the afternoon of December 16, 2021, Super Typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, brought torrential rains, violent winds, mudslides, floods and storm surges to central-southern Philippines. It was the strongest storm to hit the Philippines in 2021 and the 3rd strongest ever recorded storm in the Northern Hemisphere.

The destructive winds and torrential rains resulted in severe disruption to drinking water supplies, electricity, and transportation affecting tens of thousands of people.

Making a difference

With the support of our partners, Planet Water’s response commenced within days of the typhoon and covered three waves of deployments.

“We lost our homes. Many of us, including my children, are begging along the streets. We are taking our chances to get rice, water or any kind of assistance from motorists and travelers.”

Lucy, Mother

In December, the Planet Water team deployed an AquaBlock Emergency Water System in Padre Burgos. The turnkey system produces 1,500 liters of clean water per hour and can support the daily water requirements of up to 9,500 people.

“I have not experienced a storm as fierce as Odette. It blew away the roof and washed out the pillars of our home. Even our fishing boat is a total wreck. We are now living in a makeshift shelter without much to eat or drink. Electricity is limited so the pumps are not working, forcing us to walk for kilometers to fetch well water.”

Luis Palero, Fisherfolk from Lunsongan, Limasawa

In early January, the Planet Water team followed up by deploying two more AquaBlock systems in Limasawa, one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Odette. Here, countless houses were destroyed and livelihoods shattered by the winds and torrential rains, resulting in severe disruption to drinking water supplies and electricity affecting everyone on the island. Relief operations were especially challenging due to Limasawa’s geographical isolation, with the island located 18 km from the mainland, and only accessible via boat.

A second wave of deployments took place in March, with the deployment of a further two AquaBlock systems in the agricultural communities of Tuno and Pinamunlad in San Francisco, Southern Leyte province, where debris from fallen trees, toppled electrical posts, and trash had severely contaminated water sources.

“E.coli bacteria is present in our surface water. We have lost our homes and livelihoods, and bottled water is a cost that many families are unable to afford.”

Mr. Bando, Pinamunlad Resident

Finally, the Planet Water team deployed a third wave of projects in July with the deployment of one AquaBlock and one AquaTower water filtration system in Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte. Over half a year after experiencing the wrath of Typhoon Odette, the residents of Tomas Oppus were still struggling to source safe drinking water, and the solutions will assist in both the immediate and long-term water needs of the villagers.

“The aftermath of Odette has been devastating. Our water systems were destroyed, as well as reservoirs and pipes because of the heavy rains. Many locals fetch water from the deep well but its quality got worse after the typhoon. The AquaTower and AquaBlock will greatly aid in addressing the health issues, and gaps in sanitation and hygiene of the families especially young children.”

Rule Bano, Municipal Engineer

Combined, our response efforts have provided capability to support up to 58,800 people in communities impacted by Typhoon Odette with access to clean, safe drinking water.