Philippines: Iloilo commemorates "Typhoon Frank", launches Red Cross 143 program

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The Philippine National Red Cross is relentless on its quest to fulfill its mandate to serve the most vulnerable through its provision of life-changing services, and its efforts to alleviate human suffering in times of catastrophes and disasters.

The onslaught of typhoon Frank (Fengshen) which hit the Philippines on June 18, 2008, followed by floods and landslides, have left in its wake urgent needs among poverty-stricken communities.

"Approximately four million people have been affected through out the country by typhoon Frank. More than 81,000 houses were totally destroyed and 326,321 seriously damaged," said PNRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon.

One of the provinces greatly affected by typhoon Frank is Ilo-ilo. Typhoon Frank was the worst disaster to hit the said province where more than 200 persons were reportedly killed and 162 missing.

Around 80% of the Iloilo City went underwater because of the flood affecting 48,836 families or 244,090 persons. The damages in agriculture and infrastructure in Iloilo due to Typhoon Frank was estimated to have reached more than P500M (P1B for the whole region).

OnJune 21, the PNRC Iloilo chapter commemorated the devastation brought by Typhoon Frank and its aftermath, including its rehabilitation efforts.

"The effort of every Red Cross 143 volunteer and staff is heroism in its sense. And today, we are commemorating our successful mission to help restore the living of many Filipinos. I salute everyone for their relentless dedication as a Red Crosser," said Gordon.

During the typhoon Frank devastation, Gordon has raised an appeal to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) for humanitarian aid for the victims of the said typhoon.

Gordon is determined and indefatigable in leading the PNRC organization in sending immediate goods and services, mobilizing its staff and volunteers particularly the 143 volunteers to conduct emergency assessments in Iloilo.

Transitional shelters were given to families affected by the massive devastation left by Typhoon Frank. The project was composed of construction of shelters and latrines (1,057 beneficiaries), health promotion and disaster training.

Also, as part of PNRC's action, around 334 volunteers are equipped with skills and knowledge to educate the community on health and hygiene promotion, and disease prevention. Approximately, 16, 000 household were reached thru Red Cross 143 volunteers.

"At the end of December, at least 80 per cent of the households in the barangays correctly recalled key messages of the PNRC health education, hygiene promotion and psychosocial support mobilization campaigns," Gordon added.

Likewise, the Swedish Red Cross (SRC) has donated four Water and Sanitation (WatSan) Emergency Response Unit (ERU) trucks to the PNRC for emergency and disaster response throughout the country.

The SRC-ERU team visited Iloilo City to produce safe drinking water for the towns of Pavia, Leganes as well as Iloilo City. The visiting Red Crossers also provided and erected suitable tanks in areas with the most number of vulnerable people.

The local government and PNRC have distributed drinking water through tankers and also provided bladder tanks.

A three-day training on handling the ERU equipment was also held wherein 23 persons from PNRC participated. During the training, the team erected two T70 tanks and two T95 tanks to treat and store raw water.

Coinciding with the commemoration of typhoon Frank is the launching of Red Cross 143 volunteers at Jaro, Plaza, Iloilo City were around 2,000 volunteers are expected to oath as official humanitarian volunteer workers of the Red Cross.