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Friday 31 August 2012

A ShelterBox makes a difference to Myrna
A ShelterBox makes a difference to Myrna Myrna Urot outside her new ShelterBox tent in the Philippines, August 2012.

Myrna Urot is one of around a million people in the Philippines who have been affected by flooding caused by monsoon rains and Tropical Storm Haikui in August 2012.

She lives in Muntinlupa city, where at least 4,000 families had to leave their homes as floodwater reached as high as the second floor of the buildings.

As the schools were on holiday when the floods struck, the local authorities were able to use the buildings to set up 13 evacuation centres. Myrna, her family and neighbours gathered what they could carry and went to Cupang Elementary School. So many people were affected by the floods that the school quickly became full and evacuees spilled out onto the basketball court outside.

When the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) arrived to assess the area, there were 1,500 people at the school including single mother of ten Myrna.

‘The sports court was only half-covered and conditions at the school were wet and very overcrowded,' said SRT member Arnold Kelly (NZ). 'The children were due to come back to school and the local authorities were keen to avoid disruption to education.

'The floodwaters remained waist deep and the families could not return to their homes. Officials from the Department of Social Welfare and Development said that it could be months before the floodwaters recede as the monsoon season continues.'

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Fionn McKee with volunteers at Muntinlupa sports complex, August 2012.

ShelterBox worked with the local authorities to find suitable sites to set up small camps with drinking water, toilets and electricity where possible.

Pre-positioned ShelterBoxes in a donated storage facility just 40 miles north of the affected areas meant that the team could respond quickly to the need they had found for emergency shelter.

When the boxes reached Cupang, volunteers from the Filipino Red Cross, the local police and families from the evacuation centre worked with SRTs to set up the tents.

Myrna walked along the row of tents looking for hers and grinned from ear to ear when she found her number. She proudly sat on her ShelterBox with her Certificate of Ownership.

‘The evacuation centre was so noisy, crowded and wet,' said Myrna. 'I am so happy to bring my children here to stay in my ShelterBox tent. Thank you so much.'

A total of 473 ShelterBoxes have been distributed in and around the capital Manila, meeting the need for emergency shelter and bringing the deployment to a close.

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