Philippines Emerges From Flood-Inducing Typhoons
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
Residents of the Philippines are trying to dry out and rebuild after being battered by multiple flood-inducing typhoons this fall.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief has begun distributing emergency supplies to more than 11,000 displaced families and expects to be involved in long-term recovery efforts.
Melissa Crutchfield, who coordinates the agency’s international disaster response, said about $25,000 had been dispatched to the UMCOR Philippines Office for the relief work.
UMCOR also has applied for $40,000 in funding from Muslim Aid, and it is expecting a response soon to a proposal that it submitted to Action by Churches Together International. “That will expand our operations tenfold,” she added.
An additional $10,000 was sent to Global Medic, which “has worked with us on emergency clean water provision in the early days of the emergency, training our volunteers and providing us with some purification packets and filters to distribute with our relief efforts,” Crutchfield said.
In the Philippines, Ciony Eduarte, UMCOR Philippines office manager, and Belmar Bayombong, UMCOR Philippines technical consultant, are coordinating the volunteers who package and distribute the supplies.
Students and faculty from Union Theological Seminary in Manila and Philippine Christine University – including some 9- to 12-year-olds from the university’s elementary department -- have helped organize supplies for distribution. Each relief package provides three days of food assistance and other supplies for a family of five.
Coming in Waves
The damaging storms came in waves across the Philippines. On Sept. 26, Tropical Storm Ketsana caused the country’s worst flooding in 40 years, displacing nearly half a million people in the Manila area and the province of Luzon.
On Oct. 3, Typhoon Parma caused additional flooding and landslides in the Cagayan Province, farther north on Luzon, compounding the damage caused by Ketsana and delaying relief efforts in some of the most vulnerable areas. Sixteen people died, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.
Typhoon Lupit weakened and veered away from the Philippines on Oct. 23, but a fourth storm, Typhoon Minirae, also known as Santi, struck Central Luzon on Oct. 31, resulting in fresh damage to some of the affected areas.
“During the typhoon Santi, we also experienced the strong winds and rains, many trees fell, and the entire UTS campus was filled with fallen leaves and branches,” Eduarte reported. “We don’t have electricity and water on that Saturday. We use a small radio for news and updates being run by eight batteries.”
The number of deaths attributed to all of the storms includes some 1,100 killed in landslides and floods or by bacterial infections from contaminated water.
Figures released by the Philippines government on Oct. 14 showed 662,274 families affected by all of the storms in 27 provinces throughout the country’s northern region. Besides the loss of homes and infrastructure, rice fields were flooded and lives disrupted.
How to Help
To identify families needing assistance and monitor the aid, UMCOR has worked with the government’s Department of Social Welfare and Development at each evacuation center and beneficiary community. Other local counterparts and volunteers at each site include school principals, pastors and community organizations.
Churches also have become places of refuge, Eduarte reported. The sanctuary of The Lord Almighty United Methodist Church in Sta. Lucia Calumpit Bulacan provided space for 40 flood-affected families in October.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.