After a one-week assessment in the Philippines, we have decided not to launch a HODR volunteer project in response to tropical storm/typhoon Ketsana. (Local name: Ondoy).
During the course of our assessment, we visited the most critical areas in terms of people affected and homes damaged/destroyed. (Local term: ocular inspection.) In the National Capital Region (NCR), Rizal, and Laguna provinces we observed wide swaths of area that were flooded, but once the water receded there was little structural damage. Government and the local population quickly moved forward with the short-term cleanup. Some neighborhoods are still flooded and are expected to remain so through the end of the year. These areas may need rehabilitation work in the months to come, but at present they are inaccessible, susceptible to further flooding, and the extent of damage is unknown. Riverside communities clearly suffered the most devastation. The rivers, swollen by heavy rains, jumped their banks and powered through whatever stood in their path. Sadly, these areas are primarily inhabited by “informal settlers,” non-landowners who have made their homes in flood-prone areas. Instead of supporting rebuilding in the same place, the government and NGO community seek to relocate these families to safer areas. The issue of exactly how to go about this procedure of relocation is complex, long term, and beyond the scope of traditional HODR programs.
When HODR looks to establish a project, we try to identify opportunities that leverage our unique strength – you, our volunteers. As a result, our programs produce tangible recovery benefits for affected communities and rewarding work experiences for volunteers. There has been suffering and damage here and there is even an ongoing need. However, the remaining needs are not in an area that HODR is well-suited to address.
We’d like to thank all of our friends and partners on the ground in the Philippines. Your valuable time and generous assistance allowed us to conduct this assessment quickly and effectively.
Next up is our “on the ground” assessment of the Sumatra earthquake in Indonesia. We hope that you will continue to follow our progress there.
As always, thank you for your support!