Build Rescue Boats in Flood Prone Communities

 
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The crew of the "Helen Thompson" Boat
The crew of the "Helen Thompson" Boat

July has arrived and the residents of Banaba, just outside of Manila, are starting to step up their preparations for the approaching rainy season.

Banaba is flooded several times a year during the rainy season. So, all its residents know they need to make adequate preparations for when the rivers next burst their banks.

But some residents are even more aware than most. These are the brave men and women who crew the community’s flood rescue boats.

When the floods inevitably strike these crews will immediately spring into action to rescue neighbours who have been trapped by the rapidly rising water.

It can be a dangerous job crewing one of these boats, as the currents are incredibly strong. Boats also have to navigate narrow passageways, which can be blocked by debris. Floods can also strike anytime, day or night, and the darkness makes rescuing people more dangerous.

So, these boat crews are the community’s heros. They don’t get paid for their time and efforts. And they selflessly put themselves in harm’s way many times each year.

But because these boat crews are so brave it can sometimes be easy to forget they’re just everyday people too. They’re also scared of the water which submerges their community. And they also have wives, husbands, parents and children who worry about them when they’re on patrol.

For all these reasons we wanted to do something to help make their jobs safer and easier. So we recently provided several of Banaba’s boat crews with vital equipment including life jackets, flashlights and ropes.

These crews operate rescue boats in the Armpac, Banaba Extension and North Libis areas of the community. They were all delighted with the new equipment that was previously lacking.

While this equipment was relatively simple to provide it could literally save their lives. As a result the crews, and their families, will be able to breath a little easier when the floods soon arrive.

Thanks so much for making this simple yet impactful help possible!

We’d like to provide more boat crews with similar equipment, and so this July 15 we’re asking you please consider supporting these brave men and women once again. This is because on July 15 GlobalGiving will be matching donations to this project by an amazing 50%.

Matching will start at 9am Eastern Time (or 1pm in the UK) and donations up to $1,000 (or £600 in the UK) per donor will be matched while funds remain. So, please consider making a gift on July 15, and please also spread the word about this incredible opportunity.

As always, if you ever have any queries about how we’re using your donation, please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I would be delighted to hear from you.

The crew of the "GlobalGiving" boat
The crew of the "GlobalGiving" boat
It
It's a great day to help crews help more evacuees
The "Helen Thompson" is our latest rescue boat
The "Helen Thompson" is our latest rescue boat

We’re delighted to announce that our latest flood rescue boat is complete!

Our new boat is now situated in the Banaba Extension area of Barangay Banaba, just outside of Manila. For a number of reasons Banaba Extension is incredibly vulnerable to the floods which regularly strike the community.

Firstly it’s nearly fully encircled by the Nangka river, which almost creates an island as it loops its way around the community.

The banks of the Nangka river are naturally steep, and this steepness has been made worse by the recent construction of concrete walls. The walls prevent riverbank erosion but their addition has turned the river into a very narrow and deep canal in places. In dry season you can stand on the Nangka’s edge and look almost vertically down onto the water twenty feet below.

But in rainy season the Nangka’s waters rise quickly and dramatically. Typhoons, tropical storms and even just heavy rain cause the river’s flow to rapidly increase. The river can’t drain quickly enough and the Nangka’s waters have nowhere to go but up and into Banaba Extension itself.

This would be dangerous enough but Banaba Extension is also densely populated and has very poor access.

Because of it’s geography the only people who live in Banaba Extension are poor, informal settlers. Many of the area's 2,500 residents were drawn here looking for work, and they can’t afford to live outside this dangerous area.

There are some concrete houses but many others are made of lightweight materials, like plywood, that are easily washed away during floods. There are also no roads within Banaba Extension. The only way in, or out, is through a maze of narrow alleyways. This makes escape slow and dangerous when the floods come.

For all these reasons Banaba Extension was in desperate need of a rescue boat. So, we were delighted to recently handover our latest rescue boat to the community.

Handover of the boat took place on April 12, 2015, and due to the narrow alleyways delivering the boat proved challenging at times. But residents were so happy to receive the boat that many joined in to help. By the end of the day the boat was in position and it’s now ready to respond and save lives as needed.

This was the seventh rescue boat we’ve provided in Barangay Banaba and this one was especially poignant for us. This is because this latest boat has been dedicated to the memory of Helen Thompson, a long time friend and supporter of IDV who died tragically in late 2013.

We hope that Helen would be pleased knowing that “The Helen Thompson” will be protecting Banaba’s most vulnerable residents for many years to come.

If you’d like to dedicate a flood rescue boat to a loved one, or more simply sponsor a boat through your company or school, then please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Residents carry the boat through narrow alleyways
Residents carry the boat through narrow alleyways
Kids lend a hand by carrying the boat seats
Kids lend a hand by carrying the boat seats
Thank you for rescuing Marvien
Thank you for rescuing Marvien's family in 2014

In early December of 2014 Manila was threatened by the approach of typhoon Hagupit, known locally as typhoon Ruby.

As every year, the Philippines had already been hit by around twenty typhoons in 2014, but Ruby was shaping up to be the worst of the year.

Many people were scared about how Ruby would affect the center of the country, which is still struggling to recover from typhoon Haiyan in 2013.  But residents in the community of Banaba, just outside Manila, were also very scared for themselves.

In Manila over 500,000 people are forced to live along dangerous rivers which flood during typhoons.  Banaba itself is surrounded by three rivers and over 2,000 of its residents are in life-threatening danger during the worst storms.  As Ruby approached, Banaba’s residents followed the typhoon’s progress with mounting dread.

But thanks to your amazing support we were there to protect Banaba’s vulnerable families once again, and to help calm their fears.

Throughout 2014 community based rescue boats, funded by your donations, have stood ready to respond to floods.  During 2014 their crews, made up of local residents, also received training in the latest life-saving techniques thanks to your support.

In just one previous typhoon, last September, our boats and their crews rescued 185 people.  Those rescued during that typhoon included Marvien and her children Mico and Mary Ann.

Marvien had this to say about her previous rescue:

“I was so scared because the flood waters rose very ,very fast… [But] we knew we were being rescued together with my children; and we are very thankful that there is a boat always nearby”

Because of past experience Marvien was understandably scared about Ruby’s approach, and what it would mean for her family.  But also because of past experience, she knew she wasn’t alone should the worst happen.

In the end Banaba was spared the worst of Ruby.  The rains came and the rivers swelled, but they did not burst their banks.  The typhoon's passage was still scary, but Marvien, Mico and Mary Ann all breathed a little easier knowing help was nearby.

Thanks to your generosity we’ve helped Marvien’s family, and all of Banaba’s vulnerable families, to weather the worst typhoons of 2014.

This year will undoubtedly bring even more typhoons, but thanks to your kindness Banaba’s boats and crews will continue to stand ready.  As a result, thousands of people in Banaba will sleep a little more easily knowing help is at hand because of you.

As always, if you ever have any questions about how we’re using your donations, please don’t hesitate to email Andy@IDVolunteers.org. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Crews sharpen their skills by testing a new boat
Crews sharpen their skills by testing a new boat
Lee and her family were trapped in recent floods!
Lee and her family were trapped in recent floods!

On September 19, 2014, Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (known locally as Mario) struck the Philippine island of Luzon. Heavy rain caused flooding in many areas, including across Metro Manila, and almost 130,000 people were forced from their homes.  

In Barangay Banaba, just outside of Manila, around 1,500 people were evacuated as nearby rivers burst their banks.  But for some, the flood waters rose too quickly and they became trapped in their homes.  

One of those trapped was Lee, who is just one year and nine months old.  Lee’s mom, Erika, has Lee and a nine month old son to worry about.  So, when the rivers suddenly burst their banks she wasn’t able to evacuate in time.  

We asked Erika how she felt when she realised she was trapped and she had this to say:

“I was already in panic mode, because I have an infant and one more tot that were with me. I was so scared and already cold, because everything were drenched”

But thanks to your extraordinary generosity help was at hand through community-based rescue boats.  These boats, funded by your donations, stand ready all year round in the areas most prone to flooding.  During these latest floods one of our large boats soon arrived to bring Lee, her brother and their mom, Erika, to safety.  Erika had this to say about her rescue:

“We were all happy because we boarded a bigger boat and our breathing became normal again”

But Lee’s family weren’t the only ones helped.  Thanks to your donations three of our boats saved 185 residents who were trapped during tropical storm Mario.  Because of you, Lee and many more people are alive, safe and well despite the severe weather.

This almost certainly won’t be the last severe weather that Banaba’s residents will have to cope with – and that’s why we hope you’ll give what you can today to fund even more boats.

Thanks so much, and we wish you all the best.

Thanks to you a rescue boat was there to save her!
Thanks to you a rescue boat was there to save her!
Rene and his rescue boat stand ready to respond
Rene and his rescue boat stand ready to respond

On July 16th, typhoon Glenda slammed into Manila bringing hurricane force winds and rain. The community of Banaba is regularly flooded by storms like Glenda but, thanks to you the community leaders of Buklod Tao stood ready to respond with flood rescue boats.

Their boat crews monitored the level of the river throughout the previous night and their boats, which you provided, were readied. These boats are prepositioned all year round in the areas most prone to flooding and have rescued many families in the past.

When Glenda finally hit Banaba the community was whipped by strong winds and rain. But in the end, it was the wind which caused the most damage. The rivers did not swell and the boats were happily not needed this time. This didn’t mean the boat crews stood idle however.

For example Rene, boat crew leader in the Laylayan area of Banaba, noticed a tree that was threatening to fall on his neighbors house. Rene insisted that his neighbours evacuate and when the tree later destroyed their house no-one was hurt as a result. We asked Rene to describe how he felt after the storm and he had this to say:

"I have been doing this kind of assistance to my neighbors for many years. It is already an automatic action for me not responding is not being true to myself. I should do what I must do even during times of affliction and adversities"

This almost certainly won’t be the last severe weather that Banaba will have to cope with this year and thanks to you Rene, and the rest of Buklod Tao, will stand ready to respond with their boats and crew members.

As always, if you ever have any queries about how we’re using your donation, please don’t hesitate to email Emma@IDVolunteers.org. I would be delighted to hear from you.

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Organization

Project Leader

Andy Chaggar

Bristol, Somerset United Kingdom

Where is this project located?

Map of Build Rescue Boats in Flood Prone Communities