Caritas Philippines (NASSA) has launched a national appeal for the flood victims of Tropical Storm Ketsana. The diocesan Caritas are responding throughout the country. We spoke with Fr Anton Pascal, Executive Director of Caritas Manila, earlier this morning.
There has been extensive damage to lives and properties affecting 10 million people in Metro Manila in the Philippines. Tropical Storm Ketsana (locally called “Ondoy”) dropped a month’s worth of rain on Manila in just 12 hours Saturday. The disaster was the worst the capital had experienced in nearly half a century.
So far we’re still in the rescue and relief phase. All sectors of the country are working together, including the Catholic Church through Caritas. The weather, although better, is still raining. There is still no electricity in many areas and heavy flooding making it very difficult to rescue people from their homes and to retrieve dead bodies from the flood waters.
Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales of Manila has asked for collections to be raised from all the parishes for relief and rehabilitation. So far of the 300 parishes in Metro Manila, 150 churches and 100 parish schools are being used as evacuation centres both for the poor and the non-poor, as the flooding has affected everyone.
Caritas Manila has 5000 volunteers. Practically half were affected by the flooding. But we’ve still been able to pack relief items by asking the parishes for more help from the people and also cars to distribute the aid. We need food and clean water in the centres. We also need medicine for diarrhoea as there are many dead animals in the water and we fear the spread of disease. We also need dry clothing.
We’re particularly concerned by the one million urban poor in Metro Manila. They live in shanty housing under bridges, by rivers, and in low-lying areas. They’re the first victims. They will have lost everything. Caritas Manila runs a micro-finance project for 16,000 poor mothers. So far 90 percent of them have been affected by the flooding.
We ask for your prayers and support.