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Church mobilizes disaster response as 2 storms hit Philippines

Schools, government buildings shut as tropical storms bring heavy flooding to Manila

Church mobilizes disaster response as 2 storms hit Philippines

The Parish of San Isidro Labrador in Novaliches Diocese prepares its disaster and emergency response ministry as two tropical typhoons threaten to flood the national capital. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

September 12, 2017

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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines activated its disaster emergency response units on Sept. 11 after two tropical storms brought floods to the national capital and nearby provinces.

"Social action centers of affected dioceses are now engaged and ready to respond to any emergency," said Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the national secretariat for social action.

The state weather bureau PAGASA said this is the first time two tropical cyclones have hit the country at the same time.

Due to heavy rain, classes were suspended in several regions. The Office of the President and the Supreme Court also called off work. Even the Philippine Stock Exchange suspended trading with reports of waist-high floods brought about by heavy rain.

Gariguez urged church institutions and faith-based groups involved in disaster and humanitarian aid response "to closely coordinate with government agencies."

Carmelite Father Gilbert Billena, parish priest of San Isidro Labrador in Novaliches Diocese said they deployed rubber boats and first aid kits to emergency teams led by the Basic Ecclesial Communities of the parish.

Earlier this year, Caritas Philippines partnered with the United Methodist Church to enhance emergency communication response during disasters. 

Juanita Rey Henderson, communications officer of Caritas Philippines, said working with the Methodists would help Catholic dioceses acquire licenses and skills to “operate two-way radios during and after calamities.”  

"This is a huge part in our awareness promotion and preparation in case cell sites and commercial communication lines fail," Henderson told 

"Experience would prove that during these calamities, the only reliable means of communication is two-way radios," she added. 

In 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan struck the country, killing thousands, "a radio transmission from ground zero was the first information" the government received. 

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