Relief efforts underway as flooding wreaks havoc in Philippines

Manila, Philippines, Aug 21, 2013 / 04:46 pm (CNA).- A combination of seasonal monsoon rains and a tropical storm off the coast of the Philippines has caused massive damage to homes and property, leaving hundreds of thousands in need.

“Our team is presently working day and night,” said Gilda Avedillo, program officer for Caritas Manila’s disaster risk reduction and management program.

She told CNA that despite the difficulties caused by the flooding, the grace of God and support of the local Church “keeps us energetic and happy to help the needy.”

Manila and surrounding areas have been hit by severe flooding over the past few days, as a powerful typhoon intensified the effects of the monsoon rains. Authorities say 60 percent of the capital is submerged.

More than 300,000 people in the Manila area are estimated to be affected by the flooding.

Relief agencies and volunteers have already begun work to offer shelter and necessities to those who have been displaced by the floods.

Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle of Manila has been personally monitoring and working with volunteers to coordinate relief efforts in the archdiocese.

“Let us console and help one another in little or big ways in order to lessen the pain of those who have suffered amid this bad weather,” he said over the Manila archdiocesan Radio Veritas.

Relief activities have been ongoing since Aug. 19, Avedillo told CNA. Currently, aid workers are packing and delivering necessities to people in affected regions, many of whom are staying at evacuation centers. Priorities are food, clean water, clothing, blankets, sanitary items and basic medication.

Students from local schools are assisting as volunteers, she explained, and local support from the Navy and government agencies in helping transport people has been “overwhelming.”

“We now need more support and help for rehabilitation,” continued Avedillo, adding that “the local people have been very generous in supporting their time and their financial help.”

“The Holy Spirit is guiding us, and the continuous inspiration from Cardinal Tagle and Caritas director Fr. Anton Pascual keeps us moving, in spite of the fatigue,” she said.

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