PRC springs to action as floods and landslides displace thousands
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has delivered assistance to thousands of residents affected by floods and landslides. Heavy rains, which began four days after Christmas, continued unabated for over three weeks, drenching localities that would normally receive below average rainfall at this period of the year.
According to the Philippine national disaster agency, national disaster risk reduction and management council (NDRRMC), at least 70 people have been killed – majority due to drowning – and close to two dozen were missing as of 26 January. In all, floods and landslides have damaged some 5,000 houses across 26 provinces of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and affected around two million people, 6,000 of whom are sheltered in 48 evacuation centres.
From the onset, PRC chapters in affected provinces mobilized volunteers and rescuers to extend help to affected people. Besides assisting in rescue efforts, they have distributed relief supplies such as food, blankets, sleeping mats and hygienic packs to 6,000 families, and served ready-to-eat meals to hundreds of others in evacuation centres.
In Davao City, the local Red Cross chapter installed a water bladder to ensure that displaced residents have access to potable water. It has supplied over 10,000 litres of clean water.
As the weather conditions improve, evacuees are gradually returning to their homes. At the peak, there were 307 centres sheltering 100,000 evacuees.
However, the government's weather bureau – Philippine atmospheric, geophysical and astronomical services administration (PAGASA) – has warned that the rains may last into the second quarter of the year. They attribute this to La Niña, a weather pattern associated with cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.
All chapters in hard-hit provinces are in full gear to intensify their responses should the situation deteriorate. Additional teams are on standby for immediate deployment.
"Our emergency response teams at the chapters and national headquarters are on heightened alert. They are ready to extend assistance, including relief, health and welfare," says Catherine Martin, director of disaster management services at PRC.
Likewise, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' (IFRC) Philippine country office is fully prepared to support PRC efforts should the situation worsen. Specialized personnel, additional emergency supplies and resources are available in country.
Meanwhile, PRC has requested its individual and corporate supporters within the country to assist in boosting its capacity to respond promptly in case of a new calamity.
"We are accepting donations from our partners to ensure that funds and supplies for immediate humanitarian assistance are not depleted," says PRC secretary general, Gwendolyn Pang.
(January 27, 2011)