ADRA Responds to Multiple Asia-Pacific Disasters
Offers relief in Samoa, Indonesia, Philippines
BY NADIA MCGILL, ADRA
On Tuesday September 29, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake shook the Samoa region, triggering a powerful tsunami that has caused widespread devastation throughout the region.
“We are currently monitoring various reports out of Western Samoa to accurately assess the damage that has been done in communities, especially in low-lying coastal areas,” said Chris Olafson, director of Emergency Management for ADRA Australia. “We will work with affected communities to determine how we can best help them recover from this disaster.”
On September 30, 2009, ADRA took part in a meeting organized by the White House Office of Public Engagement, receiving an update on the humanitarian situation and began to coordinate responses with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As of October 1, 2009, ADRA was to begin assessments within the region, and begin preparing activities for an initial response. ADRA will also provide assistance and recommendations with local organizations in regards to activities that extend past the initial phase.
“Currently, information in regards to the situation is quite thin, due to the remoteness of the affected areas,” continued Olafson. “However, we are working with networked ADRA offices, government bodies, and fellow humanitarian agencies across the region to determine how we can best support them. Our hearts go out to those affected.”
The tsunami struck American Samoa, Samoa, and the small island of Niuatoputapu in Tonga. A State of Disaster has been declared in Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa, where more than 100 people have been confirmed dead. The Government of Tonga has declared a State of Emergency for Niuatoputapu, where six people were killed and four are still missing. In neighboring American Samoa, United States President Barack Obama has declared the region a major disaster, with 19 people reported dead, and nearly 3,000 people displaced.
ADRA is also preparing to help in the wake of a massive earthquake in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province that struck September 30, killing at least 579 people, trapping thousands beneath damaged buildings, and displacing thousands more. Power and phone lines were severed throughout the region, making it difficult to communicate, or properly analyze the extent of the damage.
“We will [work] with our emergency coordinator on site as soon as possible, as well as [the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] and the local government to plan our response, select the best area, etc.,” said Hector Carpintero of ADRA Indonesia, who compared it to a 6.3 earthquake that struck near the city of Padang in West Sumatra in 2007, killing more than 70 people, and injuring more than 200.
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck around 5 p.m. local time, and occurred about 33 miles (53 kilometers) from Padang, West Sumatra. Unofficial reports indicate several buildings have collapsed.
In its initial response to an appeal by the Philippine government to aid the hundreds of thousands of survivors of Tropical Storm Ketsana, ADRA is distributing emergency food items for affected families, to help them recover from what is reportedly the worst flooding to hit the Philippines in more than 40 years.
Ketsana, which is also known locally as Ondoy, hit the northern Philippines on September 26 and 27, bringing torrential rainfall, record flooding, deadly landslides, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
“The recent calamity brought by typhoon Ondoy was an extreme event not likely to happen again in our lifetimes,” said Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, “[It was] an extreme event whose record rainfall strained our response capabilities to the limit.”
The intervention will provide for the nutritional needs of 1,345 families currently residing in evacuation centers in the metropolitan Manila region.
To help these survivors, ADRA is distributing food packs for affected families in the greater Metro Manila area, starting with Quezon City, one of the worst affected areas in the region. Each pack will feed a family for one week, and is stocked with rice, sardines, noodles, fruit, beans, milk, and essential food items, such as oil, salt, and sugar.
ADRA is coordinating with authorities from the local city/municipal Department of Social Welfare and Development offices, as well as the Adventist Community Services (ACS), in order to avoid duplication, and better prioritize those who are most in need.
This initial response is valued at $20,000, and is financed by the Southern Asia Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, ADRA International, the ADRA Asia Regional Office, and ADRA Philippines.
As of September 29, the Philippine National Disaster Coordinating Council reported that the storm, with 246 people confirmed dead and another 38 still missing, affected more than 333,000 families. More than $99 million worth of infrastructure and crops were destroyed (with $66 million of that in the agricultural sector, and more than $32 million in infrastructure).
GMANews.TV, a website for the news department of the Philippine broadcaster GMA Network, Inc., reported that, according to Nathaniel Cruz, weather services bureau head of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, in the first six hours of the storm, total rainfall was approximately 13 inches (341 mm), greater than the highest number in recorded history of rainfall in one 24-hour period set in 1967. Cruz also added that in those six hours, it rained nearly as much as it normally rains in an entire month in Metro Manila.
On September 26, a State of National Calamity was declared for Metro Manila and 25 Luzon provinces in response to the storm, allowing officials to use emergency funds for relief and rescue.
ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity. For more information, visit www.adra.org.