Ketsana batters Manila
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Metro Manila | 26 September 2009 | At least 246 people died, 42 were missing and about 400,000 families or nearly three million individuals were affected in worst flooding metropolitan Manila has seen in more than 40 years. The floods were triggered by typhoon Ketsana (local name Ondoy) which hit the main island of Luzon on September 26, 2009.

Eleven members were reported dead in the Morong Philippines District and one in the Valenzuela Philippines Stake. A total of 25 meetinghouses were flooded while 25 others served as evacuation centers to more than 300 people, including non-members. The number of casualties is feared to rise as priesthood leaders receive more reports from previously isolated places.

Ketsana dumped more than a month’s worth of average rainfall on Manila and surrounding areas in one 24-hour period. About 80 percent of the city of 15 million was flooded. Some areas had floods as deep as 6 meters (20 feet).

A day after the torrential rain, members of the Church, meeting after Sacrament Meetings or in welfare councils, pooled their resources to donate food, clothes, blankets and towels to those displaced by the floods. 

Many of them have houses that were also flooded but knowing there were others whose houses were completely destroyed, they gathered what was left and shared them with those in greater need. Not a few left their flooded homes and cared for those in the meetinghouses or toured fellow members’ homes to check on their condition.

The Church provided water and basic food supplies to the evacuees.

Outside Metro Manila, unaffected stakes and districts also sent help. In the northern province of Pangasinan, where typhoon Chan Hom made landfall on May 7, 2009, members—many still living in makeshift houses or staying in relatives’ houses—surprised their leaders by giving generous donations. 

Alaminos Philippines District President Porferio Balute Jr. said even children gave their school allowance.

“Though we did not receive any instructions at that time, we feel that we have the obligation to help our needy brothers and sisters affected by typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila, following the Savior’s example. The overwhelming response of our members is a humbling and learning experience for us. Indeed, it doesn’t take a lot of wealth to help others,” President Balute said.

Rescue and relief operations had been hampered by floodwaters that remained for days while communication lines became difficult.

Elder Benson Misalucha, Area Seventy and Church’s Area Welfare manager, said: “We all need to realize that these are times when we can exemplify the power of faith and prayers. No matter how difficult things become, the gospel of Jesus Christ can see us through.”

Aside from the immediate need of those in evacuation centers, the local Church is also planning for the longer-term need of cleaning up and helping provide shelter. Donations would also be made to non-member victims through non-government organization partners.

All full-time and couple missionaries were safe and accounted for. The Manila Philippines Temple was also not affected.