Catholic Church responds to heavy floods in Philippines

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Marisol Ugay and one of her children at an evacuation center for flood victims. Credit: Elizabeth Tromans-CRS.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines is helping with relief efforts in the aftermath of a typhoon and heavy monsoon rains that have caused major flooding in Manila.

The worst flooding in 40 years forced 360,000 in Manila in the surrounding region to flee their flooded neighborhoods, the Associated Press reports. At least 60 people died.

One evacuee is Marisol Ugay, a 29-year-old mother from the village of San Pedro in Bulucan north of Manila.

She told Catholic Relief Services she was shocked at the Aug. 7 heavy rains in her village. She worried about her two young children and fled with only three days’ worth of food and savings.

“I couldn’t afford to wait and see what would happen,” she said. “I saw the rain pouring down and the river rising. I quickly grabbed my two babies, one in each arm, bundled what belongings I could carry on my head and left my home.”

Ugay must wade through waist-high water to reach her home and is waiting for the water to recede.

Evacuees are staying at shelters, many of which are at churches.

Churches and church organizations are providing food lsuch rice, canned goods and noodles. However, evacuees urgently need sleeping mats, blankets and medicine and some evacuee shelters are in need of food.

The Diocese of Iba’s Social Action Center has said its resourses are limited.

“We cannot afford to give everyone their needs,” a staff member with the center told CBCP News.

The bishops’ conference’s National Secretariat of Social Action has released $20,000 for the affected dioceses.

The secretariat’s chairman, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, has asked his fellow bishops to help fund the emergency response because funds are insufficient to respond to the damage.

The USAID Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance has awarded Catholic Relief Services a $100,000 grant for emergency supplies.

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