Picking up the Pieces after the Storm

by Analyn Lucas/CRS.

On Christmas day in 2016, Typhoon Nock-Ten (known locally as Nina) struck the Philippines with maximum sustained winds of 235 km/h and gusts of around 285 km/h. In the aftermath, CRS and other humanitarian organizations’ rapid needs assessment activities found Catanduanes as one of the provinces most devastated by Nock-Ten and in-need of external support in order to recover from the impact.  With around half of its population (47.8%) mired in poverty[1], it was estimated that 90% of its population was affected by the typhoon[2].  The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) estimated that 153,861 people or 33,529 families in Catanduanes were affected. Of the total affected, 19,631 families had their houses partially damaged by the typhoon, and around 7,415 families, totally damaged.  On January 17th to 24th, 2017, CRS, in partnership with Caritas Virac, responded in the province, with an objective of addressing the immediate, life-saving needs of targeted households affected by Typhoon Nock-Ten.  Specifically, the project aimed for households to live in improved conditions and enable them to better protect themselves from illnesses by distributing emergency shelter kits as well as water storage and treatment and personal hygiene kits.

Ms. Rodelyn Padayao, 30 years old, hails from the village of Hawan, Grande, in the municipality of Virac in Catanduanes, and is a widow with three kids (a 9-year-old boy; and two little girls, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old).  She said that her family felt the impact of the typhoon “heavily.” Her house was damaged by the rains and the strong winds, and all of their belongings were either blown away or ruined by the water. She’s having difficulties in coping with the needs of her children in the aftermath of the typhoon because she has no secure source of income, her livelihood being a manicurist and pedicurist for clients in her neighborhood.

Rodelyn recounted how she left her house and took her kids to her sister’s place on Christmas eve, because her sister’s house was sturdier than her own.  She came back the day after the typhoon hit and found only the bits and pieces that were left of her former home.  “I cried as I picked up what was left and what I thought could be salvaged, which were not many. I thought, what will happen to me and my children now?”

catanduanes story

Rodelyn together with her two children posed before their repaired home. Photo by Analyn Lucas/CRS.

Though her sister was generous, Rodelyn was getting increasingly uncomfortable in her sister’s house because she’s conscious about the fact that her sister also had her own family to worry about. “I couldn’t sleep properly. I knew my sister did not mind, but of course I had to consider how her husband and children are also affected by our temporary living arrangement with her.  Worse still, her neighbors were talking about us.”  So, after 2 weeks, Rodelyn took her kids and stayed with her mother.

A week later, Rodelyn received an emergency shelter kit, as well as a water kit and a hygiene kit from CRS.  She was grateful, and when CRS came back to interview her on February 11, 2017, she was happy to report that they are now living in their new shelter, using the tarpaulin and materials provided by CRS. With the assistance of her mother and sister, she was also able to acquire other necessary materials to complete a new house.

Apart from receiving the kits, she is appreciative of the learnings she took from the Build Back Safer and Hygiene Promotion orientations conducted through the project.  She said that she was able to apply the lessons in building her new house and in caring for her kids.

In particular, she said that the water and hygiene kits were of great help. She said that instead of buying these materials, she could instead save the money for the medical needs of her 1-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism. “I am very grateful for the hygiene materials, as it will get us through maybe until April financially.”

Rodelyn remains steadfast for her children.  She is thankful to CRS and Caritas Virac for their assistance, which she considered an unexpected blessing.  With the learnings from the BBS, she looks forward to the day where she will be able to buy GI sheets for building a sturdier roof for her family.

———————

[1] Philippine Statistics Authority

[2] Catanduanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office

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