Oct 1, 2009

Typhoon Ondoy

On Sep. 26, 2009, Typhoon Ondoy (international codename: Ketsana), smashed into Metro Manila and 25 surrounding provinces, forcing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to declare a state of calamity in all of these areas. Typhoon Ondoy dumped a month's worth of rain on the capital and the outlying provinces in just over 6 hours. To put things into perspective, Typhoon Ondoy brought 455 milimeters of rain in 24 hours, while Hurricane Katrina brought 250.

Stranded residents in Cainta, Rizal. Photo from the Washington Post

As of today, the typhoon has claimed 277 lives in the Philippines. 2.5 million are affected, and 700,000 people have been forced into overcrowded, under-supplied evacuation centers. Even five days after Ondoy's arrival, many parts of the Philippines still remain underwater. Commuting and transportation of relief goods are made difficult to impossible due to flooded and muddied roads and stalled cars blocking the way. To make matters worst, a second typhoon is on its way to the northern provinces of the Philippines, provinces still reeling from the effects of Ondoy. A preemptive evacuation has been called for, which means more refugees seeking shelter from harried government agencies.

Typhoon victims reach out for donations at a relief center in the badly hit Marikina City, Metro Manila. Photo from the Washington Post

Thankfully, the world has not left the Filipino people to suffer on their own. The international community has been quick to respond with millions of dollars of aid in cash, relief goods and technical assistance. International groups have mobilized operations in the Philippines, responding to the Philippine government's appeal for help.

AAI, along with partner organizations World Vision and AmeriCares, donated a shipment of more than 450,000 water purification sachets, each capable of purifying 10 liters of contaminated water. The shipment was delivered to the relief center at the Malacacanang Presidential Palace on Sep. 30, 2009. AAI and its partners remain involved in humanitarian relief operations in Metro Manila and the outlying provinces, including donations of high priority medicines to relief centers.

Boxes of water purifiers from AAI and its partners are unpacked for repackaging at the Malacanang relief center.

Though the storm has passed, the fight for the lives and homes of the millions of Filipinos affected is not over. Evacuees, particularly children, are vulnerable to diseases such as dengue fever, leptospirosis, and cholera. Medical equipment has been destroyed, leaving patients with chronic conditions at the mercy of their illnesses. There still exists a desperate need for clean water. The Philippine National Red Cross is the main aid agency working in the area, and AAI is continuing its programs there, as well as existing ones in southern Philippines.

We can all do our part.