As the Philippines struggles to cope with massive flooding, assessment teams from NASSA (Caritas Philippines) and Catholic Relief Services (a Caritas members from the USA) have visited the worst-affected areas. They spoke with flood victims now living in elementary schools, churches and gymnasiums that are being used as evacuation centres.
“The majority of the families in the evacuation centres have houses that are submerged right now,” says Father Edwin Gariguez, Executive Director of NASSA. “They expect to stay at the centres for weeks or even months while their houses homes are still under water.”
The centres are housing over 150,000 people. Most centres are overcrowded and lack adequate latrines and bathing facilities. Drinking water is also difficult to obtain. “There are long queue times for water supply,” says Father Gariguez. “There are rations of drinking water in some areas, but it is still insufficient, and sometimes people don’t have enough containers for the water.”
In communities still submerged in water, there is no electricity and the prolonged flood makes it dangerous for electricity to be restored. Many families are worried about returning home and not having a way to cook or anything to sleep on. With work suspended due to the heavy flooding, most daily wage earners are not making money and cannot buy food or other basic needs. Food is one of the primary needs for families in areas that are still flooded and inaccessible.
Caritas is mobilizing its network of diocesan centres and church volunteers to respond to people’s immediate needs. Dioceses have experience working with Caritas to bring food, hygiene supplies, cookware, and emergency items like candles to those in need. NASSA has already released approximately 20,000 euros to support the first phase of the dioceses’ relief operations.
“The flood damage is extremely extensive and will have long-term consequences for many impoverished families,” says Father Gariguez. “The flooding calamity is still far from over.”
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