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The Horrific Disaster in Dalama

The residents of the village of Dalama awoke as usual on the morning of Friday, December 22, 2017. They did not know that in a few hours, their lives would be changed forever. The heavy rains brought by the typhoon “Vinta” caused a flash flood, the river overflowed its banks, huge boulders, trees and mud flowed down the mountainside and destroyed everything in its path.

The Horrific Disaster in Dalama

The residents of the village of Dalama awoke as usual on the morning of Friday, December 22, 2017. They did not know that in a few hours, their lives would be changed forever. The heavy rains brought by the typhoon “Vinta” caused a flash flood, the river overflowed its banks, huge boulders, trees and mud flowed down the mountainside and destroyed everything in its path.      

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Scene in Dalama village after the typhoon

The village of Dalama is thirty (30) kilometers from the town of Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Mindanao.  It is situated in the mountains and access is difficult over rough roads.  The people’s livelihood is from agriculture, growing bananas, coconuts and corn. 

As of January 3, thirty-seven (37) bodies were recovered of people who were swept away in the flood, including children, adults and elderly.  Nineteen people are still missing according to reports.

Columban Missionaries have served the people in the parish of Tubod and other parishes in the diocese of Iligan for many years.

On January 2, 2018, Pedaling to Live and Green Shelter including Virgenia Vidad (program manager), Columban priest Fr. Oliver McCrossan, and a local teacher,  Troi, organized a visit to Dalama and brought donations: rice, canned goods, noodles, clothes and school supplies. A total of 130 families received the aid. 

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Virgenia Vidad (L) and Fr. Oliver McCrossan, SSC (R) of the Pedaling to Live and Green Shelter

with some of the beneficiaries of the aid

Many talked about losing members of their families and their homes and all their possessions in the flood.  At the moment they are being housed in temporary tents and in the village hall.  Many are traumatized from the horrific experience including the small children who have lost parents and siblings. 

We spoke to Mrs. Roseilyn Alpeche, one of the survivors.  Roseilyn and her family were able to escape but she lost her son-in-law and a niece.  Another young girl lost her mother and younger sister.  All the families have horrific stories to tell. 

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Fr. Oliver McCrossan, SSC talking to Mrs. Roseilyn Alpeche in the evacuation site

After visiting the evacuation site, we visited the disaster area which is only a five minute walk from the center of the village.  According to the people, the typhoon dumped a huge amount of rain in the mountains above the village causing landslides of huge boulders, logs and uprooted trees to flow down and destroy everything in its path. 

A major reason for the calamity is the lack of forest cover in the surrounding mountains. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, indiscriminate logging of the forest without any replanting started in motion the major ecological cause of this disaster.  The logging companies are long gone now, but people are still suffering from effects of their destructive activities. 

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Fr. Oliver McCrossan, SSC in the devastated area

Typhoon “VINTA” has caused damage all over Mindanao.  Hundreds of lives have been lost and thousands are homeless and huge damage has been caused to crops and people’s livelihoods.  Typhoons are more common now and more severe than before.  We are experiencing the effects of climate change.

The government services are doing what they can with limited resources.  Help is still needed.  Housing materials, food, clothes and farm implements are in short supply.

 

 

Prepared by:

 

Oliver McCrossan

Virgenia O. Vidad

January 3, 2018, Ozamiz City, Philippines

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