By Joe Cropp in Manila
Jeovina Llamado sits in the Red Cross evacuation centre with her four children, waiting for the water to subside. Many evacuees have already left; returning to their homes as the water recedes, and beginning the difficult task of cleaning away the debris. Rebuilding their lives.
Her home, at the bottom of a long, narrow street, was one of the worst hit by the floods that swamped her community and large parts of Manila, killing 92 people. It still remains uninhabitable, full of mud left by the floodwater.
When the floods first hit, she took her family to the second floor of the house, thinking they would be safe.
“The water came so fast. It followed us up the steps,” she said. “We had to smash a window and climb out onto the roof.”
Jeovina described a harrowing journey through flooded streets, water often up to her neck. With the help of neighbours, who towed the four children on inflated tyre tubes, the family reached high ground at the top of the street where they now sit.
Despite living in temporary, crowded accommodation, having enough clean drinking water for her family is Jeovina’s main concern. “The pipes are polluted; the water is dirty,” she said, nursing her two-year-old daughter. “If the little ones drink it, they will get sick.”
Local Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers have been providing emergency relief to 500 families in the evacuation centres of Jeovina’s neighbourhood, including sanitation kits, and fresh water to help reduce the risk of disease spreading.
This support has been repeated throughout the suburbs of Manila, after flooding submerged 60 percent of the city, directly affecting more than 3 million people and forcing about 410,000 from their homes.
Since the onset of the flooding, Philippine Red Cross has mobilized more than 1,800 staff and volunteers, to support search and rescue efforts and to distribute relief supplies.
First aid, psychosocial support and emergency assistance have been provided to flood-affected communities. More than 97,000 people have been served with emergency food packages while another 73,000 have been provided with hot meals in relief centres. More than 55,500 litres of fresh drinking water has been delivered to help prevent the spread of disease.
“Even though the floodwaters have receded in many areas, communities are still in need of relief,” said Selva Sinnadurai, IFRC country representative. “Many people have lost everything - even the basics like cooking utensils and blankets.”
“With large parts of the city’s water supply damaged or polluted, it’s important we continue to provide people with clean drinking water in order to prevent the spread of disease.”
Mr Sinnadurai said Philippine Red Cross had been able to respond quickly with emergency relief supplies by drawing on pre-positioned disaster preparedness stocks kept in warehouses in the city.
“It’s important that we replenish these supplies quickly to provide for the ongoing needs of flood-affected communities and to ensure we have supplies to access in the coming weeks and months,” he said. “This is only the start of the monsoon season – we need to be prepared for more storms.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an emergency appeal for 922,700 Swiss francs (768,000 euro, 944,219 US dollars), to help Philippine Red Cross continue to provide relief to devastated families like Jeovina’s and help prepare for future storms.