Church Helps 46,000 Families Affected by Typhoon Maring
By Kaye Bay, Church News contributor
“We have once again witnessed the beauty of the welfare program of the Church and its effect on the lives of the people we touch.” —Gerry Guerra, Dagupan Employment Resource Center manager
Typhoon Maring, which hit the Philippines in mid-August, caused monsoon rains and heavy flooding in 500 areas in 51 towns and cities in Ilocos, Central and Southern Luzon, and metro Manila.
Some 260,000 families or 1.2 million people—including 1,150 Latter-day Saint families—were displaced by the storms, according to a Church welfare report.
Roads and bridges were impassable, and more than 500 houses were damaged or destroyed.
At the height of Typhoon Maring, Church buildings were used as evacuation centers as people left their homes to find higher, safer grounds. Bishops of the Church immediately went into action, providing basic needs to evacuees. Four Church members and two missionaries sustained minor injuries in the flooding.
Latter-day Saint Charities worked with nongovernmental organizations and local government units in assessing the needs of those who were affected. Members of the Church, wearing Mormon Helping Hands vests, sorted, packed, and distributed relief goods. Food kits were given to the families in Aurora and Pangasinan; hygiene kits were provided in Pampanga. Combined food and hygiene kits were given in Bulacan and Rizal. In Zambales, sleeping and hygiene kits were distributed.
“We appreciate all the hands that have taken part in this effort,” said Gerry Guerra, manager of the Church’s Employment Resource Center in Dagupan. “We have once again witnessed the beauty of the welfare program of the Church and its effect on the lives of the people we touch.”
Distribution of the relief goods to people in the affected areas was not easy. Travel going to the towns in the affected provinces took longer than usual, and restrictions in the purchase of commodities also became a barrier. Despite these challenges, the Church was able to help meet needs of many who were affected.
More than 46,000 families, or around 260,000 individuals, benefitted from the assistance provided by the Church.
Jairus Perez, project manager for the relief efforts, said a group of 10 Church members from the Baliuag 2nd Branch, assisted by the local Catholic group, distributed food and hygiene kits to more than 1,790 families in Calumpit, Bulacan—a province that was 60 percent submerged in water at the time of the distribution. “People expressed their gratitude to LDS Charities and the Church in general,” he said.