Smoke and ash erupted Sunday from the Taal volcano in the Philippines, with the plume rising almost 14.5 km into the atmosphere and threatening hundreds of thousands of people.

The Philippine government mobilized quickly. By Wednesday, more than 38,000 people were staying in evacuation centers, and many thousands more had dispersed to family throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the government began to distribute supplies, including 100,000 protective face masks, in and around the eruption zone. There's little time to waste: Volcanologists are warning that a hazardous eruption could come at any time.