Philippines Update: ADRA Continues to Assist Families Devastated by Tropical Storm Washi

SILVER SPRING, Md. – In the Philippines, efforts are still underway to assist an estimated 720,000 individuals affected by damaging tropical storm Washi. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), is continuing their response of distributing food, making safe drinking water more readily available, and providing affected families with cash cards to purchase emergency supplies of essential items.

In cooperation with Global Medic, ADRA Philippines has been working in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro, installing water purification units to provide residents in these communities with clean water. In addition, ADRA has distributed food to nearly 1,500 families in these towns, distributing nearly 26 pounds of rice and 18 pounds of other food supplies to each family.

“I came here with my family, driving our car in the middle of the night. At this point there was a flash flood coming from the mountain. Some cars were ahead of us, but we and two other cars managed to pass through the flash flood,” recounts Tata, a driver for ADRA Philippine staff members during an assessment in the affected areas, remembering what he saw the night of Washi’s landfall. “When we looked back, to our despair we saw cars being washed away by a strong flash flood that occurred right behind us, it was the same road we just came from. In horror we watched as 21 cars and vans were tossed around like toy cars, disappearing in the dark down the stream. Later, we learned that most of them had drowned.”

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), tropical Storm Washi hit far to the south of the most storm-prone region of the country, sweeping across towns and villages unaccustomed to coping with storms of this strength. According to Agency reports, as of December 29 nearly 1,500 people were reported dead, and more than 4,500 others injured with over 1,000 missing. More than 50 evacuation center have been established to house an estimated 54,000 people who lost their homes from flash floods and storm damage. In total, more than 42,000 houses were damaged.

The predominately Christian nation endured the hardship of recovering from disaster during the Christmas and New Year season.

“The Christmas and New Year plans for hundreds of thousands were brutally changed into mere survival and searching for missing dear ones,” said ADRA Philippines Country Director, Goran Hansen. “Some houses were totally washed out, and families found themselves spending the holiday season on four square meters (43 sq feet) on the floor of a basket ball court together with 1,500 other victims, sharing four toilets and getting food sporadically.”

The ADRA Network is continuing efforts for a coordinated response to quickly and effectively meet the needs of individuals still suffering from Washi’s devastating hit.