AILSA CHANG, HOST:
A typhoon hit the Philippines on Christmas Eve, killing more than a dozen people and stranding thousands trying to get home for the holidays.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The government evacuated more than 58,000 people from low-lying areas before the typhoon made landfall. That likely saved many lives from the storm surge, says Matthew McGarry with Catholic Relief Services in the Philippines.
MATTHEW MCGARRY: The government does a much better job than it did six years ago. They really learned the lessons of Haiyan, and it's much more proactive in relocating families.
SHAPIRO: He's talking about Typhoon Haiyan, which left a trail of devastation along a similar path in 2013. With Haiyan, at least six thousand people died, and McGarry says his organization is still working to house and help the victims of that storm.
CHANG: Even though the death toll is much smaller this time, McGarry says these storms are so frequent, communities don't get a chance to recover.
MCGARRY: It is the poorest and most vulnerable families who are on the coastline, whose homes are made out of sheets and taped together with cardboard or plastic that get easily blown away even in typhoon Category 1 storms.
CHANG: And Matthew McGarry says even in comparatively smaller storms, the losses can be huge.
MCGARRY: Quite a bit of their possessions may get washed away. Their livestock may be killed. Their crops may be inundated with floodwaters. And so it will be tens of thousands of families that will require some sort of assistance or recovery to get back on their feet.
SHAPIRO: Water and power is still out for dozens of cities and towns. Restoring services could take weeks.
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