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A Day in the Life of a Disaster Response Manager

Grace Wiebe is the Senior Disaster Response Manager with Integral Member World Renew. She is currently on the ground in the Philippines working with partners to assess needs and plan World Renew’s response to Typhoon Haiyan. She has been sending back news about her experiences from the field. Here is an extract from her blog.

26th November: “I spent the day traipsing around in the rain to verify the list of beneficiaries in the locations given to us by the mayor’s office.

As you can imagine, many aid organizations have come to the area to try to assist typhoon survivors. The mayor has tried to coordinate these efforts by assigning different barangays (villages) to each organization, but this doesn’t always work.

The mayor assigned the village of Palo to World Renew. When we arrived to visit the community and meet the local captain, however, another organization came up to us and told us that his organization was already working there. With our goods in a truck two days away, we had to scramble to find a new location where our supplies could do the most good.

While still in meetings in Manila, I had heard that there were a lot of villages below Palo that were not being served. We decided to head further south of Palo to see if this was true.

Since we have not yet acquired a vehicle for World Renew, we travelled south on a public bus. The devastation we witnessed as we looked out the window along the way was disheartening. In every community, people have left because their homes are now uninhabitable. It is estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 people arrive in Cebu and 800 people at the Manila airport every 48 hours.

We eventually decided to focus our distribution on the Barangay of Bay-Bay. As I walked through it, I wondered how anyone could continue to live here without help. And yet many people are still here.

Most of the community’s records were lost during the storm. The Barangay captain has made new hand-written lists of the community members.  We spent time carefully copying these lists for our own records to prepare for the upcoming distribution. We need to make sure that we adequately track who lives there and what their needs are, so that no one is overlooked.

One of the people we met was Rico De Villalino. Before Typhoon Haiyan, he lived with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and 7 grandchildren. Tragically, his 3 year-old and 4 year-old grandsons both died during the storm. My heart tugs as I think of my own granddaughters who are around the same ages. Yet his story is not unusual. So many people have lost loved ones in this disaster.

It is going to be a mountain of work to help these families get back on their feet, but I know that the task is not impossible.”