Tragedy struck the Philippines when Typhoon Odette swept through Northern Mindanao, the Visayas Regions and Palawan on December 16, 2021. Urban poor communities were not spared of its wrath. Houses that were made of light materials of plywood, wood bars, hard plastic sheets, amakan (dried palm leaves woven into shees) and galvanized iron sheets for roofs were easily damaged with the strong winds. The streets were littered with fallen trees, telephone and electrical posts, housing materials blown away, and varied debris.
Power lines and communication lines were destroyed and electricity as well as internet connectivity were cut off. Water supply which depended on electricity became very limited and residents had to line up to get water from artesian wells, deep wells, fire trucks, water refilling stations, fire hydrants and kind residents offering water.
Many stores and small enterprises without generator sets had to close down and their laborers and employees were temporarily out of job. Drivers of pedicabs (public transportation of motorcyle with a sidecar for passengers) which is the only means of transportation within the barangays had to line up to get gasoline in gasoline stations that remained when many gasoline stations were damaged by the typhoon and had to stop operations. The gasoline stations also sell kerosene for lamps to replace flourescent lamps that need electricity.
Residents who work as small vendors in the public markets and in the streets hardly had the funds to buy goods to sell.
Slowly, the communities residents struggled to find the means to reconstruct and restore their houses and buy essential things to replace those that were damaged or blown off by the typhoon. For the first weeks after the typhoon, every day was a struggle to find food, line up with empty gallons in selected places to get water, find housing materials, and look for whatever jobs are available. Affected families were already living in difficult situations before the typhoon struck and their conditions worsened in its aftermath.
The Visayas Primary Healthcare Services, Inc. together with other development institutions have actively been soliciting donations from national and international agencies to provide food and hygiene kits to affected families.
We plan to conduct psychosocial support services to residents who have been severely traumatized by the typhoon and are still recovering from its emotional impact.