By Archelaus Joseph Q. Laudes*
August 21, 2013—Tropical Storm Maring (also known as Trami) was still disturbing the northern part of the Philippines on Wednesday morning before it eventually leaves the country and heads for Taiwan, according to the country’s weather bureau.
The bureau said the island of Luzon, where the capital, Manila, is located, also would continue to feel the effects of the habagat, or southwest monsoon, that is being pulled by Maring, for another three days.
Beginning August 19, torrential rains flooded the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Pampanga, Manila, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija. Most have declared a state of calamity.
More than a million people were forced to evacuate and five died in the storms. Emergency teams used both regular and improvised systems to rescue people.
Portions of major highways and other thoroughfares were closed, and the transportation system collapsed due to fierce rains and flooding caused by the southwest monsoon. The month of August brings monsoon rains almost every year.
After Tropical Storm Maring was forecast last Sunday night, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) immediately began preparing for the worst scenarios. Volunteers and staff monitored the situation and began packing emergency food items for distribution.
Conversations with church and community leaders and local people’s organizations were initiated to facilitate the assessment of needs, a process that continues. UMCOR staff and volunteers managed a rapid assessment in the Cavite area, just outside of Manila. While the office was flooded with requests for response, accessibility by road has proved challenging.
Biñan Laguna, a neighboring province of Cavite, was also under water. Once the floodwaters subsided, United Methodist District Superintendent Dexter Ceballos requested an emergency response. UMCOR, with volunteers from Union Theological Seminary, delivered food packages and offered to clean mud from Biñan United Methodist Church.
Devastation left by the floodwaters could be seen everywhere: in houses, rivers, and roads, all covered with mud and trash. Neither small nor large household appliances were spared by the flooding, as the floodwaters rose so fast.
As Nanay (Mother) Marcelina, 60, lamented, floods have occurred every year for four years now. “This was the highest level [of flooding], reaching shoulder-level,” she said. “We are still cleaning our houses. The goods that you’ve brought will help us a lot. We are thankful for your presence.”
UMCOR’s relief and recovery work in response to Maring and the southwest monsoon will continue in partnership with volunteers, church, and community leaders. Your support for Philippines Emergency, UMCOR Advance #240235, will help.
*Archelaus Joseph “Yum” Q. Laudes is a middler student of Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. He regularly volunteers with UMCOR, helping in documentation, news writing, and technical aspects of relief preparation.