Heavy rain dampened regions of central and south Philippines, causing severe flooding, from December 30, 2020 into the New Year on January 3, 2021. The tail end of a frontal system, or TEFS, was to blame for the massive downpour.
“This TEFS, combined with the intertropical convergence zone and a low-pressure area, also caused heavy rains in Mindanao, south Philippines, and caused several rivers to overflow, causing flooding in the town of Maigo,” Aimee Grace Tapeceria, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)’s public relations officer in the Philippines, said.
Tapeceria said that more than 88,000 people were affected throughout four regions, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. An additional 6,817 individuals were affected by another flooded region in Lanao del Norte.
“Local authorities reported that water levels reached as high as a person’s chest and almost up to house ceilings in several areas, where hundreds of families had to evacuate,” Tapeceria said. “Compared to four natural disasters from two months ago, between October and November 2020, these floods were smaller but still caused quite an impact.”
ADRA provided cash assistance to 430 families in Negros Occidental in central Philippines. More cash assistance will be provided to more than 400 families in Lanao del Norte in southern Philippines.
Tapeceria said cash assistance is typically the logistical tactic of choice because it gives beneficiaries the flexibility to purchase for their most urgent needs.
“Our emergency responses have been done in direct partnership with our local conference and mission Adventist Community Service (ACS) directors,” Tapeceria said. “They work with ADRA to conduct needs assessments and data collection.”
Tapeceria said that ADRA’s distributions are smaller because the local government doesn’t allow big gatherings, especially during an ongoing pandemic.
“ADRA always emphasizes social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing of hands throughout the relief effort. All ADRA personnel have a protocol to follow to take precautions during the pandemic, no matter the disaster we face,” she said. “ADRA also gives ACS volunteers a complete orientation that keeps them well informed about implementing distributions.”
While restrictions on travel have been challenging, Tapeceria said, the pandemic has opened up more ways to partner with the Adventist Church.
“In 2020, it has been an inspiring year for ADRA in the Philippines because of the support that the Adventist Church, both as an organization and individuals, are providing to lend a hand in the work of humanitarian aid,” Tapeceria said. “We are looking forward to developing additional partnerships with the church in 2021.”