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Typhoon has killed at least 12 and displaced 330,000 people in the Philippines

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Storms left scenes of devastation across the U.S. this past week, and on the other side of the world, another massive weather system tore across the Philippines. It killed at least 12 people and cut a broad path of destruction. NPR's Julie McCarthy has that story.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: The Philippines' disaster management agency reports that Supertyphoon Rai has forced some 300,000 people to evacuate ahead of the storm that first made landfall on the island of Siargao. A surfer's paradise, Typhoon Rai smashed onto Siargao's shores, sustaining 120-mile-an-hour winds. In the fury, the governor reported, there is no building left standing. Via satellite phone, Governor Bingo Matugas told CNN Philippines that Siargao is, quote, "totally devastated." The airport runway, however, is functional, and he called for relief flights to ferry food, water and medicine. At a briefing today, disaster management chief Ricardo Jalad said two people from Siargao were among those who perished.

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RICARDO JALAD: In Region Six, we monitored deaths numbering to six, and most of these are due to fallen trees.

MCCARTHY: As flood waters rose from torrential rains, the coast guard moved in the darkness to rescue people from inundated homes. Power has been cut in a broad swath of the central Philippine islands, slowing damage assessments. In the most powerful storm of the season, Niel Jon Salcedo, a young dentist in Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao, took a moment to savor a family treasure as floodwaters lapped in his home.

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MCCARTHY: Standing in knee-deep water, he began to play the piano that his parents had given him when he was 5. In a Facebook message, he told NPR he had transferred his personal effects to the second floor but could not salvage the heavy piano. So Salcedo said, I decided to play. This might be the last time I can. President Rodrigo Duterte said these typhoons are the imponderables. No one knows when they'll hit, and now with COVID-19, he said, the budget is depleted. With another tropical depression forecast to enter Philippine waters on or about December 24, a tired-sounding Duterte said he is worried that the storms will dampen the Christmas mood this holiday season. Clearing the Philippines, Typhoon Rai now heads for Vietnam. Julie McCarthy, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRENT REZNOR AND ATTICUS ROSS' "PIECES FORM THE WHOLE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Julie McCarthy has spent most of career traveling the world for NPR. She's covered wars, prime ministers, presidents and paupers. But her favorite stories "are about the common man or woman doing uncommon things," she says.