August is habagat season in the country, when the southwest monsoon comes a-visiting, with predictable regularity and familiar cruelty.
This year, habagat kept its schedule, striking throughout August with rains without letup that led to flooding in many parts of the metro. The weekend of August 12-13 was particularly wet, raising fears that the Marikina river would overflow its banks again as it does year after year.
It was déjà vu once again for the residents of Marikina, who had been traumatized by the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009. With the river rising to 20.4 meters, just 2.3 meters below Ondoy level, floods set in again, prompting over 4,000 families to flee their homes and move to the evacuation centers set up by the city government.
The Club’s Disaster Response team headed by Community Service PE/Dir. Bimbo Mills and Chairman Chris Ferareza quickly went to work. On the 13th, they deployed CoS Ron Dotaro and Richard Manilag to Marikina to assess the situation and determine the most immediate yet-unmet needs. From their observation and from information gathered from school heads on the ground, they found out that the need for food was already abundantly met, with donations received and forthcoming from a number of organizations. The school heads recommended that the Club send in sleeping mats, blankets and mattresses, as most of the evacuees were making do with cartons for beds.
With the need identified, the committee sent out calls for help to Club members. One of the earliest responders was Dir. Derrick Tan, who quickly sent 300 bath towels and 120 bedsheets from St. Giles Hotel. From previous donations, the committee also gathered four big boxes of old clothes, and two balikbayan boxes from PRID Paing Hechanova.
The committee then approved the purchase of 100 mattresses using funds from the Disaster Relief budget.
With everything settled, on August 14, Chair Chris and the staff braved the rush hour traffic for a two-hour-plus trip from Makati to Marikina to personally distribute the much-needed beddings. Upon arrival at around 8PM, the sight of a kid, sound asleep on a make-shift bed made up of cartons, greeted them. They knew at once that the goods they had brought would be put to good use.
All in all, they were able to turn over the blankets, towels and mats to some 400 families temporarily sheltered in the Concepcion Integrated School.