Facing the future after a narrow escape from the Philippine floods

Published: 30 August 2013 11:44 CET

By Madeline Wilson, IFRC

Since 18 August, floods have affected 2.9 million people across 45 municipalities and cities on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The floods have been caused by heavy and sustained monsoon rains in the wake of two tropical storms.

One week after the floods peaked, many provinces across Luzon are still inundated by floodwaters and some 30,000 people remain in evacuation centres, while more than 180,000 are sheltering with family and friends.

Cora, 35, her husband Segundo and their six children – aged between 7 months and 14 years – lost their home and narrowly escaped with their lives during the worst of the flooding.

Cora explains that she was woken by her neighbour early on Monday 19 August and was told that a large acacia tree, which towered on the embankment above her house, was close to collapse due to soil erosion caused by the torrential rains.

“I immediately took my children out of the house. We moved just before the tree fell, we saw it happen,” explains Cora, describing the moment her house was destroyed.

“If we hadn’t left the house in time, my children might have died. Just thinking about what could have happened – it’s too painful,” she says, as tears well up in her eyes. “I felt very distressed and for a few days was unable to sleep.”

Cora and Segundo initially took their children to the local school, which was being used as an evacuation centre. “At first the children were very afraid, but it was good for them to be able to play with other children. After a while, they began to feel more normal and didn’t think so much about what happened to their home,” says Cora. 

“I still cannot believe what has happened, I have no idea how long it will take us to rebuild. My husband is a construction worker, but while he works on our house we will have no source of income.”

The family has now moved to Cora’s mother-in-law’s house so that her children are safe while she and Segundo begin the enormous task of clearing the debris from their property in Calumpit municipality, in the province of Bulacan. Cora has managed to borrow some tarpaulins and is hopeful of receiving further assistance.

“We will start by trying to create a temporary shelter and, when we have more income, we will rebuild.”

An appeal has been launched both domestically by the Philippine Red Cross and internationally through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support families like Cora’s with food, clean water and other relief items. The Red Cross also aims to use cash-based solutions to help fast-track the rebuilding of damaged homes and to support the recovery of affected families.

Appeal information

Emergency appeal to support 15,000 families affected by floods in Philippines

The IFRC has launched a 1.68 million Swiss franc (1.8 million US dollars, 1.36 million euros) ...


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