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Clean water for flood victims
21/07/2011 Philippines

In June, Cotabato City and the neighboring municipalities were in a state of calamity. Flooded rivers brought tons of water hyacinth or water lilies downstream, clogging the Rio Grande de Mindanao, overflowing both banks, and submerging almost 36 districts of Cotabato City and some areas in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat.

For almost two weeks, people practically lived in a “water world,” wading through sometimes waist-deep water. Classes in schools were suspended and people evacuated to higher grounds and drier areas.

At the height of the flood and the ensuing evacuation in Cotabato City and environs, Father Ramon BERNABE, Provincial of the Philippines, made the appeal for a modest effort to alleviate the plight of the evacuees. The immediate response was to organize a “Water Brigade” under the auspices of the Oblate Missionary Foundation (OMF).

Considering the need for clean and safe drinking water in the midst of floodwaters and the difficult conditions in the evacuation areas, the OMF concentrated its efforts in distributing purified drinking water. With the help of volunteers who included Oblate novices, pre-novices, and junior seminarians, and with the support of donors, the “OMF Water Brigade” started providing purified drinking water to 3 evacuation centers (Krislamville, Tamontaka and Notre Dame Village). As of July 1, 2011, the “Water Brigade” had served more than 2000 families with 18,927 liters (5,000 gallons) of clean drinking water.

Under its Calamity Assistance Program, the Foundation formed a “disaster response team” headed by Bro. Noel GARCIA and Bing Estela of the Provincial Office. In some evacuation areas, Frs. Mon Bernabe, Dennis GUI and Jonathan DOMINGO, Deacons Rockmoore SANIEL and Boyet PALOMO and other lay volunteers helped in the water distribution. (OMI Philippines, July 2011)