With Church assistance, the populous island nation has begun a massive cleanup after much of Manila and neighboring provinces were inundated following two weeks of driving monsoon rains. Two Latter-day Saints reportedly died during flash floods in the Pagadian District of Mindanao in the northeastern section of the islands. All missionaries are safe and accounted for.
The rains have exacted a dramatic cost in Manila, a metropolis of about 12 million people. About 80 percent of the city was flooded and six nearby provinces near Manila were placed under a state of calamity, according to Church-produced world disaster report. More than 80 people were killed in the disaster, with several more still reported missing.
Floodwaters were receding at press time, Aug. 16, allowing for the restoration of power, communication and water services in many areas of Manila. Even after the waters recede, long-term effects of the disaster are expected. Health officials are warning of flood-related diseases and much of the vital rice-growing region to the north of Manila remains waist deep in water.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have been forced to find shelter in evacuation centers. Relief items are in limited supply, according to the report.
The Church has approved funding to locally purchase and distribute provisions such as canned goods, hygiene items and other needed supplies.
“Local priesthood leaders are also using fast offerings to help people in need,” said Lynn Samsel, the Church’s humanitarian emergency response director.
Almost 3,800 members have been affected by the flooding. Some 2,500 members have found shelter in 36 meetinghouses. In recent days, that number has decreased to about 690 members in eight Church-owned buildings, according to the report. Meetinghouses have also been utilized to offer food and shelter to others in need.
Four Church-owned buildings were reportedly flooded, with others receiving minor damage.
The Philippines enjoys a rich Church history and is home to some 645,000 members, two temples and some 80 stakes.