By Alex Youlten, ShelterBox staff
Tropical Storm Urduja made landfall over San Policarpio in the Eastern Samar province of the Philippines during December 2017, dumping the equivalent of two months of rain in just 48 hours. Mudslides and flooding caused considerable damage in the hardest hit areas, with the Government reporting more than 30,000 homes destroyed.
The newly established ShelterBox Operations Philippines, created by working closely with local Rotary clubs, swiftly delivered emergency shelter and other essential aid items to communities impacted by Tropical Storm Urduja. Through the Rotary-ShelterBox project partnership for disaster relief, volunteers from both organizations have formed strong collaborations with many Rotarians around the world volunteering with and supporting ShelterBox’s relief efforts.
With the support of local Rotary clubs, the ShelterBox response team focused on coastal communities in Biliran Island where pockets of unmet need were identified. ShelterKits (tarpaulins, tools and fixings), tents, blankets, solar lights, mosquito nets, water carriers, kitchen sets and other region-appropriate aid items were distributed to families whose homes were damaged or destroyed, including some of whom had taken refuge in community centres.
A variety of relief items were prepositioned with partners in the city of Cebu and allowed the ShelterBox response team to move quickly in getting aid to where it was needed. Although staffed and supported by ShelterBox headquarters in the UK, the response team in Biliran Island received invaluable assistance from its Rotary partners including the local Rotary Club of Biliran Island, whose members helped with local contacts, logistics and distribution, exemplifying the core Rotary ethic of Service Above Self.
“The teamwork between ShelterBox Operations Philippines, its Response Team and the Rotary Club of Biliran Island, as well as support from other Rotarians, particularly the District 3860 Disaster Management Committee, has paved the way for swift distribution of temporary shelter solutions to displaced families in Biliran,” said Ferdinand “Dindin” Morillo, charter President of the Rotary Club of Biliran Island.
ShelterBox has responded to catastrophes in the Philippines more frequently than to any other country in the world – 24 times in the last 13 years. Demonstrating ShelterBox’s flexible and agile model at work, this is the perfect location for us to be taking the first bold step into local operation bases, with local Rotary guidance and support.
Dave Ray, Project Manager for ShelterBox Operations Philippines who led the response team, says “The work that has been done in the background to arrange incorporation, preposition supplies and build operational networks has now paid off in a way that I could only have imagined. This response has seen ShelterBox Operations Philippines distribute much needed support to hundreds of families in a very short amount of time. It shows how effective a well-orchestrated national agency, working within the wider aims of ShelterBox, can be. The support shown to us throughout by the Rotary community has been amazing and we would not have achieved our objectives without them. My sincere gratitude goes out to all the Rotarians involved and I believe this sets a strong precedent for future development of ShelterBox Operations Philippines and its partnership with Rotary.”
Rotary and ShelterBox are project partners for international disaster response. ShelterBox is a Charity independent of Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. For information about the partnership, read the RI-ShelterBox Fact Sheet. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information about getting involved.