01/15/2009, 00.00
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Church helping 42 thousand flood victims

by Santosh Digal
The central and southern areas of the archipelago have been hit. The governor of Northern Samar is earmarking funds for families that have lost their homes.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The National Secretariat for Social Action (NSSA) of the bishops' conference of the Philippines has intensified its work on behalf of the population living in the central and southern regions of the archipelago slammed by heavy rainfall since the end of 2008.

Flooding and mudslides have been caused by torrential rainfall in the region of Bicol, in the eastern Visayas, and in Mindanao. According to data provided by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), more than 9,000 families have been displaced, for a total of 42,494 people. The flooding and mudslides have also caused deaths. The latest reports say that a 15-year-old young man was killed by a landslide in the village of Pagatpa, near Cagayan de Oro City, and eight people have died in Northern Samar.

Sister Rosanne Mallillin, executive secretary of the NSSA, explains that the organization is helping the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro to bring flooding victims food, tents, medicine, and other first aid materials. The aid work is being continued and extended in collaboration with the local government and with the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocesan Social Action Center (SAC).

Fr. Jose Cabantan, director of the SAC, explains that the people in seven parishes in the diocese have been seriously affected by the rainfall since January 11.

More than 300 homes have been swept away by the water with the constant monsoons. Fr. Cabantan says that many of the inhabitants of the area have preferred to remain in the villages with their relatives, rather than taking shelter in the evacuation centers set up by the government.

The cities hardest hit by the flooding are Cagayan de Oro, Gingoog, and Oroquieta; the list drawn up by the NDCC of areas rocked by the constant rainfall include the municipalities of El Salvador, Opol, Balinagasag, Medina, Lagonglong, Laguindinagan, Alubijid, Naawan, Manticao, Tagoloan, Balingaoan, Initao, Jasaan, and Talisayan, all in the western Misamis.

The Provincial Social Welfare Development Office has registered more than 8,000 families victimized by the rainfall in the 41 villages around Catarman, Bobon, Mondragon, Palapag, and Lavezares, the cities hardest hit by the flooding.

The governor of Northern Samar, Raul Daza, has set aside 10,000 Filipino pesos (equal to 161 euros) for each family that has lost its home because of the rainfall.

(In the photo, displaced people hosted at the cathedral of Catarman).

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