Asia America Initiative Emergency Flood Relief in
Davao, Mindanao, December 24 through February 4, 2012/13
The devastating Typhoon Bopha or Pablo [as named locally] slammed into the Philippines in the mountains and along the coastline of the city of Davao in the Mindanao Region during the first week of December 2012. The storm severely damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and rendered more than 2 million people homeless.
Between December 24th and February 4, Asia America Initiative’s emergency medical team, led by Registered Nurses, Ralph Samson and Mariole Sumile, joined with volunteers from the IPI Foundation of Cebu and Davao to conduct medical and emergency humanitarian support in some of the most devastated mountain and coastal areas. They were accompanied by a team of IPI dentists and a group of Philippine soldiers who provided security.
Davao Oriental Healthcare Mission On January 29, 2013 AAI Team arrived in Davao City, on a rainy night. On the first day, they departed at around 9:00 a.m. on an 8 hour bus and truck ride to the mountainous mining town, Baganga. Nurse Mariole Sumile recalls, “We passed some places where you can see former forests of coconut palm trees that were leveled. We were not sure if those trees were exclusively killed by the typhoon Pablo or also because of illegal logging. Thousands of trees were broken down and it was heartbreaking to see the condition of the environment. It made me reflect how trees help sustain people and yet some people purposely destroy the environment… Another heartbreaking situation was the destruction of houses and schools… Buildings totally broken, only the bare structures remain. Children now are having classes under a tent. Even some family homes are merely donated blue plastic to make tents. .. it may take years to build these communities up again.”
Cateel, Davao Oriental: Another underserved municipality was reached by the AAI and IPI Foundation Teams, the Municipality of Cateel in Davao Oriental Province. Just like in the Municipality of Baganga which was visited on the first day, Relief Goods and Hygiene Kits were also distributed, including 5kgs of rice, canned goods, and other food supplies such as Soy Sauce and Oil. Hygiene kits, these contain some of IPI’s donated products such as Bioderm Soap, Zip Mosquito Repellent, Omega Pain Killer Ointment, Efficacent Oil and among others. For women of reproductive age, AAI and IPI also distributed sanitary pads for their monthly menstrual cycle. There were 1,500 family hygiene kits distributed in Cateel which provided aid to approximately 6,000 people.
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office XI, a total of 8,566 houses were totally damaged in the Cateel area, while 645 houses were partially damaged. There were also 10,240 families affected and another 29,938 individuals. Several food packs were distributed by the different Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Humanitarian Relief Teams but were used up very quickly. The World Food Program also brought sacks of rice in the area to augment the scarcity of food and to serve as their supply for several months until the people are established. At present, most of the people are asking AAI and IPI Foundation more about health needs such as medicines for cough and colds, Paracetamol for fever and headache, pain reliever and basic wound care for wounded survivors, antibiotics for wound treatment and healing, anti-asthma and allergy for children and special age, anti-diarrheal and anti-parasitic for most of the children, water purifiers for unsafe drinking water. In addition, medical check-up and consultation from physicians are in short supply. Medicines for hypertension, diabetes, and other diseases are essential and badly needed because of the stress and unsafe consitions they have experienced that triggered their illnesses.
Electricity was not yet restored and repaired, thus, all of the Municipal Transactions and Humanitarian Relief Teams are relying on solar energy panels and generators as sources of electricity to continue the basic transaction and services to the people. However, it’s costly all networks are still fluctuating and unstable. Similarly, internet connections are inconsistent and slow. Wrecked roads and destroyed bridges are still under repair and construction, making it more difficult for all Non-Government Organizations (NGO) and Humanitarian Relief Teams to reach the area since they need to re-route taking almost 10 hours to travel from Davao City to Davao Oriental via Agusan del Sur.
Besides their homes destroyed and life savings vanquished, People’s livelihood is also affected, which makes people feel hopeless and desperate. The primary sources of income in Cateel are “Copra” (a coconut used to make oil and sold to big markets and manufacturers), Rice Farming, Banana Plantations, and Fishing. However, with the devastation caused by Typhoon Pablo, 95% of the coconut trees were uprooted and destroyed while 5% are still entrenched but leaves and trunks are shattered. This makes it more difficult and problematic for rehabilitation since coconut trees take years to grow and bear fruit. Rice farming is also impossible due to unstable and unfavorable weather condition everyday. Similarly, fishing cannot be conducted because of huge waves along the coastal lines caused by unstable sea and weather conditions.
Jade Valley, Davao City, was greatly affected by the wrath of Typhoon Pablo. Continuous rain caused overflowing of the Davao River and flash floods in some areas of Jade Valley on January 21, 2013, just before the AAI – IPI team arrived there. Residents of the community described the level of water in the area was 3 meters deep causing some of the houses to sink and to submerge up to the second floor.
Due to the crisis situation, the AAI and IPI Foundation tried our best to respond to the needs of the residents of Jade Valley, Davao City. Through the help and support of generous partners and our extended donor community through Global Giving, In Jade Valley, we distributed 700 family relief packs and hygiene kits to the residents of Jade Valley to support some 3,000 persons for at least one week. Aside from the relief goods and hygiene kits, the AAI and IPI Foundation rendered free blood pressure and dental check-ups and performed dental surgeries. It was heartbreaking for the AAI team to depart the area with so much still needed to be done. However, the people of Jade Valley were very thankful to AAI, IPI Foundation and our international partners for their generous help and aid support.
In Baganga, a village elder and retired coconut farmer, 74 year old Grandpa JoJo spoke for his community: “From the bottom of our hearts we thank our new friends from Asia America Initiative and all those people who sent support for us through Global Giving. We will never forget you.”
Attached is a List of Relief Goods distributed in the Davao area by Asia America Initiative
During Christmas 2012, AAI staff in the Philippines in partnership with IPI Foundation of Davao delievered relief supplies to more than 1,250 families in typhoon-devastated Compostela Valley near Davao in the Philippines. The scale of tragedy here makes other flooded areas like in New Jersey pale in comparison. There are no government agencies like FEMA to assist, no private insurance to cover people’s destroyed homes and people currently in danger of starving to death. Bodies are still being covered by mud and rock slides... thousands of homes and hundreds of thousands of square miles of farmland are destroyed.
Our gratitude to Yolanda Stern in California and our relief partners from IPI Corporation and Foundation in Cebu & Davao for their big hearts and their staff's courage. On Christmas Day, AAI’s 5 member Christian and Muslim team of volunteers drove 12 hours in AAI nurse Ralph Samson’s car from Iligan in western Mindanao to perform the best we could offer. Our financial support came from Americares, International Relief Teams and Global Giving’s myriad private donors. We also used the last of our water purification tablets from Medentech in Ireland. We, like all other agencies, are ovewrwhelmed by the scope of the tragedy. We could only feed a small percentage of those families in need. Much support is still needed.
Our targeted survivors of Typhoon Pablo were in the rural Municipality of New Bataan, Province of Compostela Valley New Bataan, one of the most devastated districts hit by the 100 mph winds of the recent super typhoon last December 3-6, 2012. According to the local Municipal Social Works and Development office, in that District alone there are more than 27,000 individuals suffering... and more than 900 corpses recovered with hundreds more people missing. Relief teams are still counting dead decomposing bodies beneath the rocky and muddy soil during retrieval operations by the Philippine Army.
In the village of Barangay Andap, all houses were swept away by flood water away including the 12 buildings of elementary and high schools… all areas were covered with large stones and uprooted trees. The road and bridges were also destroyed due to heavy currents of water even up to now and making relief operations more difficult.
We found that the TOP 3 most needed supplies in the area are FOOD, WATER, and CLOTHING. Equally important, supplies of MEDICINES such anti-pyretic (anti-fever), antibiotics, anti-diarrheal, anti-cough and colds, cardiac drugs for hypertensive patients, anti-asthma, and anti-leptospirosis and among others are also badly needed to address many medical, sanitation and clean water concerns. Minor surgery and wound care MEDICAL SUPPLIES are also needed for some patients who are suffering from cuts, injuries and abrasions that risk serious infection. Diseases and epidemics are also a threat.
AAI will continue relief operations through the months of January and February. All contributions are welcome.
LANAO DEL SUR, PHILIPPINES December 18-21, 2012
In BUBONG RAMAIN, LANAO DEL SUR, PHILIPPINES more than 5,300 families or 30,000 people are severely affected by the recent Typhoon Pablo that Mindanao last December 3-6, 2012. According to the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), lifelines available such as communication, electricity, water, bridges and roads are broken. The newly constructed water irrigation system by the Provincial Government was also destroyed due to heavy and large volume of water flooded villages during the wrath of Typhoon Pablo in the area. Millions of dollars in agricultural products were damaged including unharvested rice and corn.
On December 18 through 21, Asia America Initiative backed by Global Giving donors conducted the first emergency food and medical relief in isolated communities in Lao del Sur Province. To our surprise, Asia America Initiative-was told by hundreds of desperate villagers that AAI was the first and the only NGO who visited and distributed relief goods to the people. The precarious journey on washed-out roads and broken bridges required partnership action between AAI and the 103rd Brigade, Philippine Army, who provided strong soldiers and a large cargo truck to carry the multiple tons of relief supplies. AAi staff and our college student volunteers delivered close to 1,000 5-kilo bags of rice, 250 family-size hygiene kits that included soap, towels, toothpaste and blankets. Medicines we previously shipped were distributed to 1,000 families in the village of Pantar, Bubong. The mission was jeopardized by continuous rain, the AAI team and the Philippines Army struggled to transport the relief goods due to slippery, weak and narrow roads. An accident occurred when a massive 6x6 army truck slid off a narrow bridge and into a flooded ditch. Fortunately no one was injured but it took a rescue truck with steel cables from a private company from the city of Marawi to pull the army truck out of the mud.
The AAI relief teams, backed by student volunteers and local soldiers demonstrate what people of varied backgrounds – Christians and Muslims -- can achieve when working together. Better living conditions can be built by positive action, if people of different faiths and languages and clans bond together as one human family.
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