Mountain Area good samaritan helps in typhoon recovery

Community CorrespondentJune 3, 2014 

You haven't heard or seen it rain until you've experienced the thundering waterfall of a tropical downpour on a metal roof. You certainly don't want to be in a tent or worse under that cascade.

The rainy season is rapidly approaching in the Philippines and thousands of Filipinos are still living, working and learning under makeshift shelters in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan's apocalyptic devastation late last year.

I am one of a relay of volunteers from the California Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Ministry (CSBDRM) alleviating those wet and noisy conditions for school children on Leyte island in the Philippines. Most CSBDRM volunteers serve in construction or chaplaincy roles, but I was sent as a photographer and videographer.

I was struck by the people's friendliness and positive outlook, especially in such dire circumstances. They were doing what they could to help themselves with the meager means and resources they had. Villagers also volunteered to help on the CSBDRM job site.

I go to encourage and help others, both materially and spiritually, but they often send me home even more blessed. I still choke up now and then as I edit photos of my new friends in the Philippines, especially when I watch the short clip of the school kids waving good-bye.

Having been deployed on various disasters by now, I see how and where my effort and money is being used by CSBDRM and the results it produces. All too often you hear stories about donated goods and funds being mis-managed by aid groups or even stolen by criminals taking advantage of a crisis.

Each CSBDRM team of five-to-eight spends about 10 days repairing or replacing classroom roofs in the Ormoc area on the opposite (West) side of the island from Tacloban, the hardest hit city. Teams complete an average of one-to-two school roofing projects before 'passing the baton' to the next team.

Even though Ormoc, which had a population of more than 190,000 before the storm, didn't suffer the same level of destruction as Tacloban, officials estimate 80 to 90% of its buildings were seriously damaged. Most schools on the island suffered extensive damage because the predominant sheet metal roofing was bent, torn or literally blown away in the typhoon's category 5+ winds. CSBDRM is coordinating with other relief agencies and local experts in Ormoc to avoid duplication of effort and thus focused on repairing schools.

Don Hargis, CSBDRM director, said volunteers are already seeing changed lives in the Philippines as a result of volunteer efforts. "We are bringing a living hope, not just help."

Many relief agencies, both secular and religious, from around the world are involved in reconstruction efforts. Among them, numerous Christian organizations, including the Salvation Army, Youth with a Mission, Samaritan's Purse, and Baptist Global Response (BGR)/CSBDRM are supporting relief efforts through both money and volunteers to rebuild the islands.

The Southern Baptist Convention has both domestic and global disaster relief organizations to put Christian love in action by meeting the urgent needs of people in crisis situations such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and wild fires. State agencies under national coordination address critical needs during local, state and national emergencies, usually under the auspices of the American Red Cross.

If you would like to donate to disaster relief efforts, make your check payable to CSBC with a memo for Disaster Relief and send it to: California Southern Baptist Convention; 678 E. Shaw Ave.; Fresno, 93710; or look online at csbdrm.com/donate.

If you are a member of an evangelical church and would like to volunteer your time, resources and efforts for future disasters you must first be trained in one or more of several disciplines including: chainsaw operation, chaplaincy, clean up and recovery, communication, damage assessment, mass feeding, skid-steer loader operation, and water purification. For more information on training: disasterrelief/article377469c6715602.htm

Details: csbc.com/disasterrelief and csbdrm.com or call Don Hargis, the California director at (559) 229-9533, ext. 246.

To see additional photos: flickr.com/gp/csbdrm/501d64

NOTE: Jay York is a North Fork native and Sierra High School graduate.

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