help usTyphoon Hagupit has all but left the country into the South China Sea, as of Tuesday, December 9th. The storm hit Manila, but by that time had slowed to winds of less than 100 Km/h and rains had receded from their torrential caliber. Downgraded again from a tropical storm to a tropical “depression”, the destruction wrought in the western regions were certainly less than that of the East. Fortunately, lessons learned from last year have proven invaluable, and the death toll is currently being estimated at fewer than 30. We mourn with those who have lost and pray that the number not increase.

As the storm exits, though, the job of surviving finishes and the job of restoring lives begins. Our six Disaster Response Networks (DRNs) will continue to travel around the Samar area to engage in damage and needs assessment. Moreover, they will also facilitate post-disaster counseling, risk reduction and disaster response training, as well as follow up with Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) training later on. The networks have a level of self-sufficiency and self-replication as well, as pastors who are trained are called to train four others, thus empowering communities to a further level of self-reliance.

Kriz Cruzado (PBCI Field Operations) has been travelling with some pastors who were trained during last year’s storm. These pastors are now the coordinators of their respective PAR-DRNs. Here is what one of them, Jonathan Pobadora, had to say about his experience so far:

As I saw the effects of Ruby, the flashbacks of the experiences I had with Yolanda all came back to me. What happened was not easy. We hope that the needs of the survivors [will] be supplied at once. We need all the help we can get, as soon as possible.

As a survivor of Yolanda, and now a rescuer of the survivors of Ruby, it is difficult to respond due to the pressure. We want to do everything we can to help but we cannot do very much because of the limited resources. It pains my heart and it gives me headaches realizing this. Seeing those effected made me think that it would have been better if I had not come.

We have many things we want to do to help but we cannot do anything about it. This made it even more difficult for us.

It is very important to pray to God for His help and guidance- prayers for our strength and health.This experience is a lesson to all of us and a personal lesson, too.

(A translation from a Cebuano interview by Kevin Marie Becira)

We are grateful to God for supplying strength and wisdom to our many volunteers in the field who are doing what is no doubt a taxing job.

Here is the latest update from Kriz:

0700H: Update from Tacloban (Day 3)

Finally, my team and I were able to get to Dolores today. Our day started at 3:00 in the morning and the travel from Ormoc to Dolores took more than 11 hours! Well, the road was really bad! But, we were quite lucky because by the time we got to Maydolong, the road was already clear. There was a landslide in this town and responding organisations weren’t able to get past it until today.

My team is composed of representatives from various committees from Ormoc Evangelical Disaster Response Network (OEDRN), but most of them come from the Health and Security Team. I was thinking that maybe they could help provide first-aid when needed. OEDRN was joined by the Health and Security Team from Balangiga and Lawaan, Eastern Samar. One common thing about these teams is that they are all survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. Learning from that experience, they thought that organising themselves into a disaster response network would strengthen their capacity to respond to disasters.

As we were passing by the towns of Maydolong, San Julien, Taft , Can-Avid (and other towns I didn’t get the name), we have seen houses that are totally destroyed, coconut trees that are de-topped, and damaged and muddy roads. We’ve seen fathers trying to salvage materials from their destroyed houses, mothers who are picking torn and muddied clothes from the ground, and children playing. There was silence in the car… My teammates were emotional! They were in tears as they recalled their lives after Typhoon Haiyan and how they also picked up clothes from the ground and salvaged old materials for a makeshift shelter. For awhile, I was worried that their trauma might come back. But, I also thought that maybe it will help them see their situation in a different perspective. At the end of our trip, we did a debriefing and I am glad that all of them are happy with the experience.

When we got to Dolores, the town doesn’t seem very affected. We heard that there are isolated islands in Dolores, but since it was already past 4 in the afternoon, there was no time for us to cross the ocean to get to these islands. Besides, I didn’t think it was safe to do that. We went to the municipal hall to meet the mayor or any representative from DSWD, and again, we got lucky because there was a press conference that was about to happen. We stayed, listened and asked questions. Pastor Jonathan Pobadora, a member of OEDRN’s Logistics and Transportation Committee asked a question pertaining to the welfare of the evacuees and how the government should provide safety to people, especially to mothers and children. He was trembling while talking, but he was speaking from his experience with Typhoon Haiyan.

Initial Data (please note that the data gathering is ongoing, especially in the upland and the islands):

Number of Casualties: 2
Number of Injured Individuals: 22
Number of Missing Persons: None

Immediate Needs (according to the mayor):

:: Communication Line
:: Relief Foods (at least for 2 months)
:: Shelter Materials
:: Tents (evacuees need to vacate the classrooms where they are currently staying as classes will resume on Wednesday, December 10).

Around 80% of the shelters in 46 barangays of Dolores are totally damaged, and 20% partially damaged. The final number of shelters and the list of priority barangays will come out tomorrow.

I like that the local government and the people themselves have learned from the experience of Typhoon Haiyan. They are prepared. They evacuated early; hence the casualty was almost zero.

Note: All data taken were only from Dolores. Other towns before Dolores also need help

Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2014/12/operations-change-tone-as-storm-recedes/

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