Still reeling from the destructive effects of Typhoon Goni (known in Philippines as Super Typhoon Rolly), the Philippines was once hit by another tropical storm that has killed dozens, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, and caused severe roof-level flooding throughout Luzon, North Philippines.
Typhoon Vamco (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Ulysses) made landfall in Luzon on November 11 and caused widespread devastation throughout Luzon, including the regions of Bicol and Metro Manila, among others. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that there were over 25,000 displaced persons throughout 273 villages.
To date it is the deadliest and most destructive tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines this year. The NDRRMC has declared the aftermath of Vamco as the worst since Typhoon Ketsana (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Ondoy), and has pre-emptively evacuated almost 200,000 persons from other flooded and affected areas as well, including the regions of Bicol and Illocos.
With many areas still reeling from the devastation brought about by Typhoon Goni earlier this month, the heavy torrential rains and severe floods, as high as electricity poles, brought about by Typhoon Vamco, left neighbourhoods submerged in muddy water and people scrambling to their roofs.
In Metro Manila, the hardest hit areas have been Marikina and San Mateo, with over 40,000 homes submerged by flood waters.
In the wake of the destruction, the Tzu Chi Philippines coordinated with local governments and dispatched members and volunteers to the affected areas to provide urgently needed aid, as well as assistance for clean-up operations and feeding displaced residents.
Tzu Chi members and volunteers entered the same areas totally destroyed by Typhoon Ketsana in 2009. Tumana, Malanday & Nangka districts of Marikina have been covered with mud, while the high-end Provident Village suffered widespread devastation and even a number of casualties. Rescue and relief efforts are still underway to help those affected.
Tzu Chi volunteers were at different evacuation centres to provide hot porridge & bread, for victims in evacuation centres, who, at the time, have not had a hot meal in more than 24 hours.
To help with clean-up and sanitation operations, Tzu Chi encourages residents to help their community through the “Cash for Work” program. “Cash for Work” incentivises every community to clean up their homes, and their neighbourhood, by paying each participant Philippine Peso 1,000 per day even if they are cleaning their own homes. Everyone started cleaning their surroundings and their neighbourhood as well.
Tzu Chi even provides heavy machinery such as pay loaders, tractors, dump trucks, and earth movers. Smaller tools such as wheelbarrows, shovels and other equipment for clean-up and sanitation operations are also provided.
In addition, Tzu Chi pays each person who joins and participates in the “Cash for Work” program Peso 1,000 per day, and provides their meals. The estimated clean up time for each community is between 3-5 days.
To further help hard-hit communities in the Bicol region recover, Master Cheng Yen will be distributing cash for relief in amounts varying from Peso 18,000 to families with 1-2 members, Peso 23,000 to families with 3-4 members, and Peso 28,000 to displaced families with 5 members and above, to enable these families to get back on their feet. This is definitely a life changing program for the 25,000 affected families in the Bicol region.