Preparation, Humanitarian Aid, Faith Help in Philippines Flood Recovery
With help from the Church and its partners, members in the Philippines are still recovering from the flooding that began on August 7, 2012, when more than half a month’s worth of rain poured on the capital city of Manila in less than 24 hours.
A recent report from the Church’s Welfare Services puts the number of stakes and districts affected at 35—approximately 10,000 members. More than 400 meetinghouses are being used as evacuation areas for those in need—members and nonmembers.
To date, humanitarian relief efforts have resulted in the distribution of nearly 13,000 food kits, 7,889 hygiene kits, 650 baby kits, and 200 sleep kits.
President Jose Manarin presides over the Marikina Stake, one of the more heavily affected areas due to its low-lying ground that includes a river that has overflowed during past heavy rains. The circumstances of the members in Marikina mirror that of many areas around Manila.
“Most of our members live near the river,” President Manarin reported. “Flooding now covers most of our members’ property.”
However, he said, because flooding occurs so often, the members have prepared beforehand. A nearby building was already prepped for evacuation—with showers, restrooms, and kitchen areas—and members fled there. A few other chapels in the area are being used as evacuation centers as well.
As the waters rose, a team of Church members used a boat from a local government agency to reach those who were trapped in their homes or to take food to those without access to it.
“Our challenge is to always be teaching the members to prepare for calamities like this,” President Manarin emphasized.
In three days, he estimated, the waters will begin to recede and members will return to their homes and begin the cleanup process. In Quezon City, Mormon Helping Hands volunteers, many of whom had homes of their own under water, began relief efforts as early as August 9.
Some of the Marikina Stake’s young single adults and youth have already begun to help in areas where the water has gone down.
“Their homes and their belongings have been destroyed by the waters, but what is important for them is they’re still alive,” President Manarin said. “It’s going to be a challenge for many of them, because they will have to replace what was lost and employment is hard here, but they’re still smiling.”
Part of the reason for those smiles, he added, is their strong faith. The first Sunday following the flooding, members met in a chapel for a quick sacrament meeting—one chapel was inundated with evacuees, while another was flooded. The second Sunday, members were able to attend the full schedule of Church meetings.
“During the meeting, they would tell their stories and how they were strengthened by their faith, because their prayers were answered,” President Manarin said. “Our members are mature in the gospel. Their faith is strong. . . . They’re faithful.”
The Church continues to assess the needs of its members and their neighbors and will continue to provide aid to those in need.