A Report on Sendong Relief Efforts

(by Tim Quimpo, CFC FFL CDO)

On December 16, 2011 it rained incessantly for over 8 hours.  Unbeknown to residents of Cagayan de Oro City and other areas in Northern Mindanao, the mountainous regions to the south received as much, if not more rains.  All the rain water started it’s downhill trek.  Around 2 O’clock in the morning, the rainwater that fed the Cagayan de Oro River  started to swell the river.  The timing was just right that the waters could not freely empty into Macajalar Bay as High Tide was also rushing in.  As the river was trying to exit into the Bay, the seawater was pushing it in causing the water level in the river to rise to unprecedented levels.  These two hydraulic factors, both in opposition to each other with the timing when most were asleep caused the devastation of great proportions.

As of this writing, there are over 1,000 confirmed fatalities with hundreds missing in Northern Mindanao.

CFCFFL members started to assess damage.  We started to get calls in the morning where some members spent the night on top of their roofs just to avoid the raging waters.  Frantic calls to rescue trapped brethren were hampered with houses and debris blocking roads.  By mid day of December 17, 2011, we had 3 families of HFL members calling for help.  These were above extended family members of brethren calling and asking for help.

CFCFFL decided we could not stand by while our members were struggling and personally affected by the floods.  We started to contact and assess the state of our members.  By this time, we realized that 9 YFL member’s, 3 HFL and 2 CFC families have been affected.  We decided to prioritize rescuing the Aribal Family (6 pax) and single mother HFL Marlyn Saleno with her 2 year old son, Rey.  As the day progressed, we also realized that there were a lot of people who are in flood ravaged areas who probably have not had a meal during these trying times.

We had some brothers who prepared Arroz Caldo.  We prepared over 120 servings and took it when we went to rescue the Aribal Family.  We also started to ask friends to help financially so we may be able to react to the specific needs of those asking us for help.  We started to look for and account for all our members.

We found that all our members were safe except for a few affected by the floods.  As we tried to get a grasp of the devastation, direct members of CFCFFL affected needing temporary housing were moved to the Quimpo residence, a total of 4 families comprising of 12 persons.

Since the floods, adding to the difficulties, there have been no water supply to most of the city.  The Water district is predicting that it will take a month to restore 80% of the city’s water supply.  Since we have a deep well, we approached the Barangay Captain and asked if they would benefit from the well and if they can pay for at least half the increase in electric if we opened the well for our neighbor’s needs.  The Barangay Captain agreed and CFCFFL will subsidize the remainder to supply water to our neighbors.

We started to get contact information of flood victims connected with our membership.  We were asked to help family of a kasambahay of one of our FTW’s, a brother of a CFCFFL Edmonton, Canada brother, brother of HFL member, so on and so forth.  We started relief operations focusing on immediate needs.

In the days to follow, we interviewed over 50 families and provided immediate needs such as water containers, underwear, personal hygiene items, food, blankets, mats, mosquito nets, pots, pans, tableware, kitchen wares and immediate need items.  For Christmas Eve, we distributed 100Kgs of rice and canned goods.  Here are some of the recipients of our aid:

As aid and more relief agencies are starting to deliver goods and services, we are now concentrating on target families and their intermediate needs.  School will be starting in a week or so but students have lost their school supplies.

We have distributed over 90 school supplies kits  to flood victims and are repacking another 100 kits with more to come.

We are helped by KFL, YFL, HFL and even seeing people we have been affected are now helping assist in the restoration efforts.

Dec. 28, 2011, a meeting was called to be attended by relief agencies and organizations by the coordinating committee of DSWD Region 10.  CFCFFL was represented.  During the meeting, mechanics on aid to victims were discussed.  We also looked at the efforts and have decided to assist on a larger scale.  Upon review of DSWD data on evacuation centers, we found out that the evacuation center in the area of where the family of a CFCFFL FTW kasambahay is located is manageable.  It has 57 Families comprising 214 Individuals residing in City Central North Elementary School.  We have contacted the DSWD coordinator in the area and will meet with them to see if we can be of assistance and also assist to make sure all displaced people are accounted for.  We will also coordinate with the parish to inform them of our efforts.

Moving forward, there is a need to switch from intermediate needs to long-term needs.  We will coordinate with CFCFFL WWP, Parish and DSWD in the affected area in Puntod, Cagayan de Oro.

We are also discerning on whether we can still manage helping a victim who got widowed Christmas who is residing in City Central Evacuation Center.  Since we have graduated 2 HFL’s from being evacuees to restoration stage, we have a vacant room where we can temporarily house this widow.