Reported by Salvador G. Eduarte, Jr.*
August 7, 2012—The Philippines office of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding to the needs of survivors of heavy flooding in and around the Filipino capital, Manila, brought on by a confluence of storms and a week of rain.
It has been raining in the Philippines since Typhoon Gener (also called Saola) moved into the region August 1 and collided with and worsened seasonal monsoon rains already pelting the country.
The combined effect of the typhoon and the monsoon produced torrential rains and storm surges, which have prompted local officials to declare a state of calamity in and around Manila and nearby provinces
UMCOR Philippines staff and volunteers travelled to affected areas to gauge the extent and impact of the flooding. “We are conducting a rapid assessment to determine areas that need our response for relief operations,” said Ciony Eduarte, director of the office.
She said flooded roads are hindering the effort. “UMCOR has already received many requests for assistance. We are preparing to respond once the roads are passable. Then we will push through with relief operations,” she said.
News reports indicate that at least 51 people have died in the storm that also chased tens of thousands of people from their homes.
Fifteen UMCOR volunteers and staff answered a call from help from residents of Nasugbu Batangas, a fishing community about 44 miles from Manilap. The village was struck by a storm surge. The volunteers distributed 150 food items to the displaced residents.
When Rogelio Guererro and his neighbors saw the unusual waves, about ten feet high, approaching the seashore, they fled to the closest evacuation center, a public school, Guererro told UMCOR Philippines. The tsunami-like waves smashed into their homes, destroying them.
“In previous typhoons, like Ondoy (Ketsana) and Parma (Pedring), we never experienced such huge, roaring waves,” Guerrero commented. In addition to losing their homes, villagers also lost the boats they use to make their livelihood. About 200 families were affected.
They said there was no storm signal in the area, and yet the waves and winds were very strong.
Guererro thanked God that a church agency such as UMCOR responded to villagers’ needs. He said this was the first time a church-related humanitarian institution had responded to their needs. “In times of calamities such as we have experienced, your help is very much welcome and we are thankful to God that you came,” he added.
Eduarte thanked the villagers for their cooperation in the orderly distiribution of relief goods. She also commended the volunteers and local officials for their enthusiastic participation in the relief operation.
To UMCOR’s supporters she said, “Please continue to pray for us and for the survivors of these floods.”
Your gift to Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235, supports relief efforts in Filipino communities impacted by disasters such as this one.
Salvador G. Eduarte, Jr., is an UMCOR volunteer in the Philippines.