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Manila swamped by heaviest rains in years

More flood misery for millions in Manila

Flood victims crowd an evacuation center in Quezon City Flood victims crowd an evacuation center in Quezon City
  • Claire Delfin, Manila
  • Philippines
  • August 9, 2012
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When the rain started pouring on Sunday 50-year-old Evelyn Zubito grabbed her three grandchildren and headed to the nearby parish church.

"I feel safer here because we are in the house of God, and He is watching over us," Zubito said as she settled with about 100 families in the San Isidro Labrador church in Quezon City's Bagong Silangan district.

"This church will keep us safe," she said.

Many churches in Metro Manila have been hurriedly converted into evacuation centers now that more than half the city has been flooded by four days of non-stop monsoon rains, the worst for three years.

Outside the capital, several provinces have also been badly affected, with a state of emergency declared at some in Luzon.

There have been at least 23 flood-related deaths, including nine in a landslide in Quezon City. At least 358 houses have been destroyed while 2,677 others were damaged in an area covering 1,529 villages in 128 towns and 30 cities, according to The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

As of today, about two million people have been displaced by the floods, the NDRRMC said. Almost 300,000 people are living in almost 500 evacuation centers.

Some 154 roads and four bridges, most of them in Metro Manila, remained impassable today.

Despite sleeping on concrete floors and relying on food rations, many people in evacuation centers remained optimistic and grateful.

“We are lucky and happy. We lost all our belongings, but we are still alive. The family is intact," said Leonides Doroteo.

Church worker Bobby Lagula was one of the people who volunteered to help. "These people need all the help they can get," he said. "It’s my little way of saying thanks to God for keeping my own family safe."

Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, has asked for more help from people not affected by the floods. "We live to serve," he said in a radio interview.

Caritas Manila has distributed thousands of hygiene kits with toothbrushes, soap and other necessities, as well as bags of food to displaced communities.

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