We went to the Philippine Coast Guard Hangar at the NAIA domestic airport to board a small plane. I was with two pilots, a colleague from FAO, a colleague from PCOO, colleagues from PDRF, and the airplane’s mechanic. Another team went by helicopter.
It was quite a scary ride because of the turbulence. All we could see were white clouds. It took us about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Virac.
We landed in Virac safe and sound. The sky was overcast and you could already see the destructive force the typhoon brought to Catanduanes. The airport had internet and phone signal because of the facility brought in by the Department of Information and Communication Technology. We waited for the second team as their helicopter needed to refuel in Legazpi.
We met Governor Cua to discuss the objective and mission of our visit. We joined a daily briefing of clearing operations to determine passable areas. The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Office recommended six municipalities for us to assess: Baras, Bato, San Andres, San Miguel, Virac and Gigmoto. Thankfully only one road had debris, we were able to move around.
We went to our accommodation. It was a function hall with eight beds with only a divider to separate the beds of the males and female members of the assessment team, including separate male and female toilets.
At around 7 pm we had dinner. We planned with OCD and OCHA on areas to cover, and discussed the best strategy to do the assessment, including how to divide the teams. We decided to add two more municipalities to the six because they were on the way to our destinations. We finished at around 9:30 pm, while other teams discussed in detail their roles and expectation in the assessment until around 11:30 pm.