Over 2 Weeks Since Typhoon Ketsana, Still No Electricity

Latha Caleb, Save the Children country director, Philippines

Latha Caleb joined Save the Children in 2005 as director of the tsunami programme in India. She supported the formation of Save the Children India, before moving to the Philippines.

Oct. 8, 2009  Manila

LathaReszdIMG_2656 I visited our driver Ruel’s home today. His home was washed over fully in the flood. I met Ruel, his wife Rose Ann, and his 5 children.

His home – or whatever remained –had clothesline strung all across and there were clothes drying. Every side of the wall in his home was broken.

It is more than two weeks since Ketsana raged in Manila, and still Ruel‘s home did not have electricity, and we had to look around using flashlights. 

Ruel had lost weight and looked tired. He said that he was most worried for his children. The only way he could save them from getting drowned in the water was to break open the walls on the sides so that the water would drain through and not stagnate and rise up to the roof level.

All around his home there were visible signs of debris and houses that had collapsed. Many homes still had water logging and people living in those homes had elevated all their belongings whatever they had salvaged on to a higher level.

Ruel said that his son wanted to go to school, but all his books and his school bag were lost to the swirling waters. I had carried with me the message from Carolyn Miles and from Charlie MacCormack and gave it to Ruel.

We used a flash light to read it together and as he read the note I could see tears glistening in the corner of Ruel’s eyes. He was so touched by the note. Maraming Salamat Po – that is thank you very much in Filipino, was all he could say.

Learn more about Save the Children's response in the Philippines 

Vietnam: Making Sense of Cyclone Ketsana

Nick Finney, Save the Children Emergency Response Team Leader

Oct. 6, 2009.  Quang Tri, Vietnam

Nick finney_233 I’m with two colleagues on the way to Quang Tri, where the most serious reports are coming from in Vietnam.  Its 22.00 and our conversation has digressed – we’re all very tired and can’t take in much more tonight. Talk in the car is descending we’re speculating about what 'Ketsana' means. We’ve two theories – theory one, Ketsana means full moon in Filipino, theory two, Ketsana is a perfumed tree from Lao. Or maybe a perfumed cheese.

It’s good not to know and not to be able to find out and in any case I heard that Google is killing general knowledge. There’s a full moon festival this weekend – a big day for children in Vietnam. They get gifts, run around banging big drums and dress up as dragons – it looks like great fun.  Full moon festival seems to be on in the big cities like Dan and Hue, but there’s no sign of it in any of the places we visited today. Still too much to sort out and too much suffering.

Today started OK, then got quite frustrating, then confusing, then a meltdown. And then we got it together. 200 more packages distributed to families containing essential supplies – reaching approximately 1,000 people. 

Tomorrow will be crucial – I hope we got it right. We’re making a long journey and our aim will be to finalise a plan to get us into the thick of an emergency phase. By the end of the week, we hope to get aid to 5,000 more families – that’s about 15,000 children. 5,000 of them will be under five and highly vulnerable to diseases like diarrheoea and malaria.

Lots of reports today of acute respiratory infection, eye infection and skin disease following the flood. Children in affected communities in Vietnam, as ever in all emergencies, are suffering the most.

Learn more about Save the Children’s response in Vietnam.