Appeal to help 2 million Philippine flood victimsBy Cecil Morella
MANILA, Philippines—Philippine authorities appealed Thursday for help in getting relief to two million people affected by deadly floods in and around the capital, warning that evacuation centers were overwhelmed.
After more than a month’s worth of rain was dumped on Manila in 48 hours, entire districts remained submerged although overflowing rivers had started to recede and neck-high waters seen earlier were typically down to knee-deep.
The state weather service also dropped its rain warning on Thursday for the sprawling city of 15 million people, and a rare bout of sunshine in the afternoon added to an exhausted sense of relief for many.
Disaster chiefs said the top priority was to help the 2.1 million people affected by the floods, as masses flocked to evacuation centers in search of a dry place to sleep, food, water, medicine and clothes.
“We are repacking a lot of relief items, we need more help and are asking for more volunteers,” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman told AFP.
“We have the food but we need to pack them, deliver and distribute them in this massive operation.”
Soliman said many evacuation centers were not able to provide much-needed warm meals to the growing number of displaced.
“Most local government units do a community kitchen, but the volume of evacuees is so big that they have been overwhelmed. We are also appealing for more medicines, blankets, mats and, more importantly, dry clothes,” she said.
The number of people in schools, gymnasiums and other buildings that had been turned into evacuation centers rose to 315,000 on Thursday, from 150,000 on Wednesday, according to the government’s disaster management council.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others were left largely to fend for themselves, seeking refuge with friends and relatives, or staying in partly submerged homes.