The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee is relying on trained community members and experienced staff to build a full-scale response to two powerful earthquakes that rocked Indonesia in the past week and recent storms in the Philippines and Samoa.
“Right now, we’re giving out water, food, and clothing just to keep people going," says Jacob Kramer, CRWRC’s director of disaster response and rehabilitation. "We’re distributing tarps as temporary shelter so that families have a roof over their heads. Many are still desperately seeking family members who are buried under buildings.”
This type of immediate emergency response was possible because of CRWRC’s existing work in the area.
“Our local partners and Disaster Response Teams in both Indonesia and the Philippines are trained to immediately spring into action on the ground with the help of local volunteers,” said CRWRC relief coordinator, Jacqueline Koster. “CRWRC’s long-standing disaster preparedness and response training has been key to enabling quick action at the community level immediately following disaster.”
In addition, CRWRC is networking with other relief organizations and bringing in trained personnel to meet the longer-term needs.
CRWRC consultants, Nick Armstrong and Mona Saroinsong are in Padang and Pariaman, Indonesia, this week to meet with local and international relief organizations and determine a response to on-goingneeds. Volunteer managers Marvin and Lorraine Vander Valk will arrive later today to provide additional leadership, set up a base camp, and mobilize staff on the ground. They expect to be involved in rebuilding homes for the next several months.
In the Philippines, the flooding from recent storms has swamped sanitation systems and is making outbreaks of waterborne and infectious diseases increasingly likely. Seasoned CRWRC relief managers, Jack and Elly Dalmaijer, arrived in Manila today and are in contact with Medical Teams International to determine how to address these health needs at distribution sites in Manila and Northern Luzon.
On the other side of the Pacific, American Samoa was also hit hard by an earthquake and tsunami waves that washed over the island in late September. CRWRC Disaster Response Services director Bill Adams is working with the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to evaluate long term housing reconstruction needs. He expects that CRWRC Disaster Response volunteers may be called on to assist in the reconstruction.
All of these efforts need financial support. CRWRC is appealing for grants and individual donations in excess of $300,000 to meet the needs at these disaster sites. Gifts for the earthquake response in Indonesia should be marked “Indonesia Earthquake 2009”, gifts for work in the Philippines and Samoa should be marked “Philippines/Asia Floods 2009.” Donations can also be marked “Disaster Response: Where the need is greatest” to enable CRWRC to respond in all locations.