Typhoon Ketsana puts aid organizations into rapid response mode

Relief agencies in Southeast Asia are scrambling to help the victims of Typhoon Ketsana which submerged much of the Philippine capital of Manila and later hit Vietnam. Manila boasts a population of nearly 12 million people, many of whom are trying to recover and salvage what they can from the remnants of massive flooding. Time Magazine reports at least 246 deaths have been associated with the storm. According to the Associated Press, about 1.9 million people in Manila and surrounding areas were inundated in the flooding, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said. Nearly 380,000 people have sought shelter in schools, churches and other evacuation centers. Christian aid organization World Vision is asking donors for $2 million to help with relief efforts. World Vision is working with the Philippine Coast Guard to distribute aid to the hardest hit areas, including by way of helicopter. Emergency response teams are hoping to reach up to 100,000 people displaced by the flooding. It is also putting together food- and cash-for-work programs to help communities recover and clean up their streets, community buildings and schools. “The impact of this typhoon on Manila has been shocking. Many have lost everything, including bedding, food, education materials and clothing,” said World Vision’s national director in the Philippines, Elnora Avarientos. “The poorest living in slums and settlements are especially badly hit.” In images reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, Filipinos were stranded on rooftops waiting for assistance as the floodwaters rose. World Vision reported that dead bodies have been revealed with the receding flood waters, many of whom were either elderly or young children. “Houses were flooded in just a few minutes, so people were not able to bring their belongings or food into evacuation centers,” said World Vision’s emergency affairs director, Boy Bersales. “Others waited on their rooftops to be rescued.” Compassion International has 26 church partners in the affected area and all are affected, at least two seriously. Affected church partners are currently accounting for children and assessing the damage, as well as providing immediate relief. Eighteen Compassion staff members, including the country director, had to evacuate and have lost homes or belongings in the flooding. The International Committee of the Red Cross is working in conjunction with its affiliate the Philippine National Red Cross to come to the aid of flood survivors. On Wednesday the ICRC will send mosquito netting, tarpaulins, blankets and water from a nearby warehouse to about 3,000 families in the Manila area. “From the outset of this calamity, Philippine National Red Cross staff and volunteers have been working around the clock to carry out rescue operations and meet the immediate needs of flood victims, such as drinking water and food,” explained Iris Von Birgelen, the ICRC delegate in charge of cooperation with the PNRC. Approaching weather in the Pacific Ocean could further complicate matters in the region. Two storms could impact the same area of the Philippines hit by Ketsana within the next week. Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, causing the country’s worst flooding in 40 years, the Associated Press reported. Ketsana prompted the evacuation today of 170,000 people from central areas of Vietnam, the Associated Press reported. At least 23 people died. World Vision moved relief supplies into position prior to the storm making landfall near the city of Danang. “Danang is predicted to be in the eye of the storm. It’s very windy and trees have already blown down,” said Le Van Duong, World Vision’s emergency response coordinator in Danang. “We have seen the evacuation of 3,000 families from our project areas to safer places, including schools, and we have already distributed noodle packs to 700 families.” Links: World Vision: http://www.worldvision.org/ Compassion International: https://www.compassion.com/contribution/giving/disasterrelief.htm ICRC: http://www.icrc.org/eng Time Magazine: The Manila Floods: Why Wasn’t the City Prepared?: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1926646,00.html

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