Update on CRS' Philippines Flood Response

March 19, 2012 by

From Dec.16 to 18, Tropical Storm Washi (local name “Sendong”) passed over the southern Philippines, resulting in flash flooding and landslides, particularly affecting northern Mindanao. The storm killed more than 1,200 people and left more than 25,000 people homeless. Catholic Relief Services responded immediately, providing vital water supplies to evacuation centers and household goods like water jugs, cooking utensils and soap. Since then, CRS has concentrated on building temporary housing, while continuing to supply water to four camps for the displaced.

Here are two stories on the progress so far: the first article comes from a Lenten pastoral letter written by Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

On 7 March 2012, at the former cemetery site of the archdiocese, 67 evacuee families affected by Typhoon Sendong had the inaugural blessing of their new transitional shelter homes. These low-cost housing units were constructed under the supervision of Catholic Relief Services, which had teamed up with the archdiocese in the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong on Dec. 16-17.

Thirty-five families coming from the washed-out area of Macasandig had been housed in the basement of Our Lady of Fatima Parish Church in Camaman-an. Thirty-two other families, formerly living under the Marcos bridge, had been given shelter on the grounds of Sacred Heart Parish in Kauswagan.

These two groups were now coming together in “Amakan Village” – so called, because the walls of the housing units are made of interwoven bamboo slats (amakan). Each housing unit has a floor space of 18 square meters. A slightly tilted roof made of galvanized iron sheets provides some air circulation from the top in addition to two open windows on the sides. Common cooking and toilet areas are also located to serve the needs of a cluster of ten housing units.

In the coming weeks, CRS will be completing 50 more amakan-type housing units on the open grounds of San Jose de Mindanao Seminary. Nearby, 33 units are being constructed on the open field of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. Among the evacuee families expected to occupy these housing units are the 40 families living in tents (called shelter boxes) on the grounds of Mount Carmel Parish. Other families will be coming from the evacuation centers in barangay covered courts in Macasandig and Tibasak.

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And the second is an article from a publication in the Philippines on the collaboration between CRS and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has teamed up with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to provide transitional houses to victims of Tropical Storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro.

Representatives of the groups signed a memorandum of agreement last week and agreed to pledge a hefty amount of $350,000 for the construction of decent temporary houses.

Joe Curry, country representative of CRS’ Philippine Program, said most of the needs of the survivors like permanent shelters, food and clothing were already addressed by the government and other non-government organizations.

He said what they lack now is a dignified and convenient temporary shelters where they can stay while waiting for their permanent houses to finish.

“We decided to provide them with transitional houses made of light materials in a 16 square meter land that will be constructed in three to four days for them to live conveniently,” Curry said.

He said those presently living in evacuation centers will be prioritized for the temporary shelters.

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