During the recent flooding in Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided relief supplies to over 5,000 families of other faiths located in various evacuation centers; but, what about the members of their own congregations suffering in the rising flood waters in many locations? How does the Church take care of its own people?
Those not of our faith receive disaster relief through the Church's partnering with NGOs, other faith-based organizations and TV foundations. To help its own members, the Church has its own welfare department which monitors the needs of members in times of disasters, individual unemployment and serious illness. This monitoring is done by local leaders of the Church.
President Jose Manarin of Marikina Stake (diocese) is one of these leaders. His area is located in one of the worst flooded parts of Manila. He reported that four chapels within his stake were underwater while those on higher ground or with second floors were being used as evacuation centers.
Responding immediately to individual calls of distress, President Manarin arranged to have the buildings opened and to use the Church’s “fast offering” money to buy food and supplies. These were delivered to the Stake Center by the truckload. The Bishops under his charge soon arrived to be given the amount needed by their congregations.
As the flood waters rose to over six feet in the roads, the chapels were already full and people were being clothed and fed and provided blankets for the night (and more many nights to follow). President Manarin stayed at his evacuation center (chapel) all day and night to be on hand to monitor the needs of his flock, responding by text and phone calls. Additional funds became available as Church headquarters learned of and responded to the crisis.
Provident Chapel in Marikina was flooded waist deep. Repairs had only been completed recently from the 20 ft. wall of water that invaded the building during Ondoy. For a second time, members will respond to help with the restoration once the flood waters recede. In Lamauan Chapel, where 180 evacuees occupied both floors of the building, the Welfare Department delivered additional sacks of rice and canned foods.
During one dark night, in the rain and flood waters, President Manarin led in rescuing two families from their roofs by boat. These families were safely brought to one of the evacuation chapels.
President Manarin, in talking about what had been happening, said, “So far there have been no deaths, but there has been one addition to our membership…a baby was born in the Lamauan Chapel!” He added that 800 members of his Stake (diocese) had been affected. This is almost the same number of kits and food packages that were prepared for those not of the Mormon faith during Thursday’s volunteer efforts.
Due to continuous rain last week, there were a total of sixty (60) meetinghouse facilities used as evacuation centers, with 4,032 total evacuees in all of the affected areas, not just in Marikina.
When asked what he felt was the greatest need following this disaster, President Manarin replied, “We need more preparation training for our members. They need to realize the urgency for assembling their 72-hour kits so they will have the necessities to help them until rescue and relief can arrive.”
His smile was radiant as he stated with gratitude that he knew his own flock had been and would always be taken care of, and he knew his Bishops felt the same.