For many Filipinos, Christmas is a time for celebrating family and home. For ADRA Philippines, however, this past holiday season has been dedicated to rebuilding homes and knitting families back together in the wake of Typhoon Nock-Ten, known locally as Nina. Sweeping into the country on Christmas Day, the typhoon made a total of eight landfalls and displaced almost half a million people along Luzon’s southern coasts.
Among the hardest-hit were islands in the Bicol region, including EMBRACE Project sites in the province of Camarines Sur. With the help of on-site project staff, local barangay officials, and the Adventist Community Services (ACS) director for the South Luzon Mission, ADRA quickly mapped out the devastation in the municipalities of San Jose, Presentacion, and Garchitorena. In all, Typhoon Nina damaged upwards of 8,000 homes. Of these, more than 3,000 were totally destroyed.
“For targeting [of relief operations], we really did house-to-house validation,” said Mary Ann Belga, who served as coordinator for ADRA Philippines’ emergency response. “We checked if houses fit our criteria, which is ‘totally damaged’–by which we mean, houses that really aren’t habitable anymore.”
From December 27-30, ADRA and its partners distributed 550 shelter repair kits in the municipality of San Jose, Camarines Sur. The beneficiaries came from six barangays in total: Tagas, Dolo, Salogon, Sabang, Telegrafo, and Kinalansan. Meanwhile, a parallel operation in Quezon province distributed 300 shelter repair kits as well.
Describing the logistical challenges they faced, Mary Ann said, “The highways were mostly passable, but some barangays couldn’t be reached by our trucks. We had to use pick-ups to transport the kits to our target areas.”
The damage suffered by these areas is only part of the larger picture of Typhoon Nina’s aftermath. So far, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) counts almost 2 million persons directly affected by the storm, with more than 240,000 houses damaged in the CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, and Bicol regions. All three regions have also reported agriculture and infrastructure damages totaling more than Php 5 billion, reflecting the disruptions of key roads and communication networks that have made it difficult to get a clearer picture of Typhon Nina’s overall impact. Once more stable connections with affected areas deliver new information, those numbers are likely to climb.
For its part, ADRA Philippines continues its data-gathering and assessment operations in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions to see what other support it can provide, and in which areas. These findings will also be shared with the Philippine INGO Network (PINGON) to help the overall typhoon recovery efforts. While the 2016 holiday season has come to an end, the work of rebuilding lost homes and broken families is only just beginning. (Kate Loyola)