The two consecutive typhoons and a tropical depression that passed through the Philippine Area of Responsibility from July 16 to 22 intensified the monsoon rains and resulted to flooding in the low-lying areas in Metro Manila and nearby towns.
Tzu Chi volunteers cooked hot meals and distributed breads to 1,535 affected families in Barangays Banaba, Maly, Sta. Ana, and San Mateo in Rizal and Barangays Nangka, Malanday, and Tumana in Marikina City. Although their own homes were also flooded, local Tzu Chi volunteers in the said areas also mobilized to help their neighbors.
Residents of riverside communities in Marikina City and San Mateo in Rizal have had the longest week of their lives.
Starting July 16, two typhoons namely Henry (Son-Tinh), Inday (Ampil), and a Tropical Depression called Josie have passed by the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). They intensified the monsoon rains. As a result, low-lying areas in Metro Manila and neighboring towns were inundated.
On July 22, covered courts and schools were once more packed with families seeking shelter. A day before, the flood waters brought by the first two typhoons have receded, making it possible for the residents to return home. They thought the worst was over, until heavy downpour began again in the wee hours of the next morning.
At 2:00 a.m., Barangay Banaba in San Mateo, Rizal was put on first alarm. Thirty minutes later, forced evacuation started in the communities near the river.
Marikina City residents struggled with the same situation. “The flood waters were so high, our sleeping mats floated on it and we’ve lost our clothes,” said 79-year-old Emerincia Jake.
Tzu Chi volunteers in the area were also not spared by the flooding.
“At 4:00 a.m., we evacuated our homes,” shared volunteer and Banaba resident Veneranda Funtaniel, 49. “At around 5:00 a.m., rescuers were using boats since we can no longer walk on the streets. The floodwaters had already reached our necks.”
Tzu Chi volunteer Roque Baytan was also forced to leave his flooded home in Barangay Tumana, Marikina CIty. A photo of him carrying boxes of clothing as he waded through their flooded neighborhood circulated in social media.
Despite being victims of the flood, the local volunteers in the said areas still mobilized and became the vanguard of Tzu Chi’s relief mission for their neighbors.
As soon as they have settled their families in the evacuation areas, these volunteers started doing their rounds in different evacuation centers to gather the name list of the affected families.
In Marikina, local volunteers cooked vegetarian soup for the evacuees. The soup warmed the stomachs of 1,535 families in 15 evacuation centers in Barangays Banaba, Maly, Sta. Ana, and San Mateo in Rizal and Barangays Nangka, Malanday, and Tumana in Marikina City. Each family also received a loaf of bread.
“Every time it rains hard, it gets flooded here and the people have a difficult time looking for food,” explained volunteer Jimmy Chua of their relief response. “We are praying that the weather would let up and that this will not happen again. Either way, we will continue to help these people with what they need.”
Meanwhile, beneficiaries are grateful for the volunteers’ warm love.
“If you had not come, we wouldn’t have anything to eat,” said 70-year-old Rosario Aducal.
“We have had our fill – me and all of my six children,” Dorothea Lauron, 39, happily added.