A Year After Ondoy: Many Victims Still Struggle to Reclaim Their Lives

Date Publish: 
09/23/10
Region-Country: 
Philippines / Asia

Typhoon Ondoy (internationally known as Ketsana) hit Metro Manila
and surrounding provinces on 26 September 2009. The typhoon that
left cities submerged in muddy water for months, claimed almost 300
lives and made tens of thousands of families homeless.

“I never want anything like that to happen again,”
says Reynaldo Timoteo, a corn vendor for 28 years with seven
children, who lived beside the Laguna Lake, the third largest
inland body of water in Southeast Asia. Surrounded by Metro Manila
and provinces of Rizal and Laguna, the lake overflowed due to
Ondoy’s torrential rain.

Together with other humanitarian organizations, IOM and the
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), supported by
the European Commission through its Humanitarian Aid Department
(ECHO), stepped in to help make life in evacuation centers
bearable.

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title="">One Year on: Some Flood Victims Still Struggle to Rebuild
Their Lives

“It was very crowded and we only survived through
donations, but we knew that we could count on each other. We were
lucky that many sent food, hygiene kits, cooking materials, and
other basic things. IOM made sure that we had a clean water supply,
bathrooms, and a cooking area in the evacuation center. We were
also able to prevent diseases with the help of their medical
team,” says Genoveva Alpas, a 50-year-old laundry woman who
is the sole source of support for her three children and five
grandchildren.

For the past year, IOM had been helping people affected by the
typhoon to rebuild their homes by providing construction materials.
Reynaldo, Genoveva and many other typhoon victims have returned to
their land and rebuilt their houses. They are also hoping to be
able to generate income through IOM’s livelihood
projects.

Edmundo Orcajada, a fisherman and grandfather of five, leads an
association seeking the relocation of those who still live in
danger zones. “We would really like to leave our lakeside
houses, but we don’t have anywhere to go. We are also
concerned about our livelihoods, since we have to fish every day to
feed our families,” he says.

IOM, working in partnership with various local government
offices, provided him with a shelter repair kit and construction
materials to help him to repair his damaged house. Other families
received similar help as a temporary shelter solution.

“Families here are aware that in the event of another
storm, they will have to gather their belongings and move to a
private lot identified as an evacuation center for the
community,” says Edmundo.

With funding support from ECHO, IOM is currently building
temporary shelters to help families living in damaged houses to
move from high-risk areas to safer transitional sites. Some of
these families are also receiving a livelihood start-up package to
retrain them or improve their skills to allow them to generate
income and support their families.

It has been a year of recovery for many. But for those who still
have no house or livelihood to return to, it is still only the
beginning.

“The typhoon season is here again and the most vulnerable
people are those who are still recovering from Ondoy. We need to
help them to be better prepared in the event of another major
disaster. To do that we – IOM and ECHO – have to put
them back on their feet both economically and in terms of safe
shelter,” says IOM Typhoon Emergency Response project manager
Dave Bercasio.

© IOM 2010 (Photo: Ray Leyesa)