Filipinos preparing for worst, ‘praying’ for best from Parma

U.S. Marines on Friday distributed clothing and medical supplies to victims of Typhoon Ketsana in Manila.
Arturo Fidelino couldn’t sleep.

The telecommunications executive, who lives in Manila, the Philippines, with his wife and teenage daughter, spent Friday “observing and awaiting” Typhoon Parma, which threatened to bring more destruction to a country already reeling from last weekend’s killer storm. “We had a traumatic experience when we had Ketsana,” which was a tropical storm when it slammed the Philippines last weekend and later strengthened into a typhoon. Ketsana was blamed for 246 deaths. “We don’t want that to happen again,” he told CNN Friday. “Everyone is praying for the typhoon not to reach Philippines.” They were also preparing. Fidelino and others described “panicking” residents rushing to stock up on all sorts of goods — canned food, water, candles, and other electrical supplies — amid sometimes treacherous conditions. “I’ve seen children looking for their parents, children going through garbage,” said Doranne Lim. As Typhoon Parma bore down Friday on the Philippines, Lim was holed up on the second floor of her Manila home with her mother and her mother’s helper, surrounded by supplies. “I’m seriously thinking about getting a sturdy rubber boat soon, and maybe construct an elevated platform in my garage for the car,” Lim said. Lim and Fidelino are among those in the Philippines who have sent images to CNN iReport. Forecasters say the worst damage from Parma may be north of Manila, where officials fear mudslides could be triggered. But inches of rain are expected to pound Manila and elsewhere, adding to the devastation. “There are areas still underwater,” said Luc Picard of Catholic Relief Services, who is helping coordinate his agency’s efforts in the region.

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People are becoming sick without clean water, he said. “Sanitation is a huge problem,” and leading to severe diarrhea, severe rashes, and various diseases, Picard said. And schools being used as shelters “are not ready to receive families of three, four, five or even six children. You may have 100 families in one of the schools.” He added, “Around the streets, it’s mud all over.” “After last week, people are really scared of what might happen,” Picard said. “They are moving inland, away from the coastal area. The government has been very proactive about getting people to move to shelter areas or highland where they can be safe.” Many Filipinos, including Brian Marana, are holding out hope that the dire predictions about Parma won’t play out. “People are holding their breath and hoping it’s not like Ketsana,” he said. Marana, who lives in San Juan, has been helping collect and deliver canned goods. “Yesterday I went up to one of the hardest-hit areas,” he said. “Everything is covered in mud. Furniture is out on the streets.” Fidelino, also helping in relief efforts, is concerned about getting relief to stricken residents after the typhoon slams the country. Watch iReporter’s account of volunteer efforts in the Philippines “The major problem here, to my mind, is how we will be able to transport relief goods to those who are in dire need of them,” he said. There are also security concerns, he said, noting what has happened in recent days. “Every time goods are brought somewhere, it’s chaos,” he said. “Everyone wants to get hold of them. Volunteers are actually putting their lives in danger.” But a fellow Filipino, Adrian Lauron, said the destruction has “brought out the best from all of us Filipinos.”

“The concept of giving, sharing and volunteerism is evident everywhere,” Lauron said. “All Filipinos are aware and eager to help the others in need,” Lauron added. “It is truly a moment for the Filipino people.”