Philippines Flood Relief Efforts Continue; Rebuilding Begins

Three weeks after a typhoon and three tropical storms devastated a northern Philippines island, hundreds of army and civilian engineers have begun massive construction work to rebuild flood-hit areas that have been cut off from the rest of the country for weeks.

According to Reuters, nearly 1,800 people are dead or missing in eastern and northern provinces on Luzon island after the typhoon and three tropical storms over the course of two weeks set off torrents of water, mud, boulders and logs that swept away villages and bridges. The disaster affected close to four million Filipinos.

Damage to crops, fishing and infrastructure is estimated at 4.69 billion pesos (83 million USD), and it may take weeks to restore power to the worst-hit areas, clear roads and rebuild bridges, Reuters reported.

With disease a major worry, aid agencies--including the U.S. Marines--have helped speed up efforts to get food, clean water, medicine and shelter to 880,000 people marooned by floods and landslides.

World Vision, the international Christian relief and development organization, reports that more than 15,000 World Vision relief packs have already been distributed to typhoon victims in three municipalities and that more packs are now being delivered from the World Vision Philippines national office to the relief operations warehouse in Real.

While continuing to distribute relief packs to the victims, World Vision is also commencing its Food-For-Work Program, and doing assessments for water development in response to the need for safe water in the communities, as well as health, livelihood, reforestation and shelter programs.

Reuters reports that Manila has received close to 100 million pesos in cash (1.78 million USD), emergency rations and equipment from the international community, including foreign non-government organizations (NGOs). On Saturday, the U.S. Marines turned over $1-million worth of tents, generators, blankets, medical supplies and water containers to Philippine disaster officials as it pulled out 650 troops after two weeks of relief operations.

Meanwhile international aid agencies continue to appeal for support to combat potential disease outbreaks in flood-stricken areas, saying more than $8-million in additional aid was needed during the next three months.