"When there is a calamity, I really listen to all the instructions of our local disaster management office"
In December 2017, Typhoon Kai-Tak, a category 2 storm, dumped two months worth of rain in 48 hours on the eastern Philippines, triggering severe flooding, landslides, killing at least 47 people and impacting almost two million.
When Kai-Tak bore down on the community of Binohangan, all eyes were on Teresita Delda Rosales, the elected ‘captain of the barangay’ or community chairperson.
Tropical storms were not new for Teresita. Her community is located near the ocean and a large ricefield, and acts as a catch basin for floodwater from other nearby communities. Teresita says this is the reason why their community is named ‘Binohangan’, which means means ‘formed by flood.’
But regardless of her past encounters with tropical storms, Teresita says what they experienced from Typhoon Kai-Tak was the worst she had ever seen.
The captain takes charge
According to Teresita, preparation was key. “When there is a calamity, I really listen to all the instructions of our local disaster management office,” she says.
Before the storm hit, she was her town’s early warning device. Walking around the barangay with a megaphone, Teresita alerted people about the oncoming storm. Many took her advice and moved to safety while others chose to hunker down with prepositioned emergency food and supplies.
The rain fell all night, covering the entire area with water. Teresita says those who stayed in the community were frightened because the water rose so quickly.
But it wasn’t until the next morning that she saw the real tragedy that had hit her village.
In water that pooled due to heavy rains and covered the rice fields, the bodies of eight members of the community were found. They had been washed away by the surging floodwaters.
Of the 2,000 households that received assistance from the Humanitarian Coalition (HC) following Typhoon Kai-Tak, at least 150 of them were in Barangay Binohangan. Thanks to the HC, Oxfam Canada and the Canadian government, families received food and household items, sleeping kits, hygiene kits, and cash assistance to enable them to survive and rebuild their lives.
And thanks to the strong leadership of Teresita, the little town that was ‘formed by flood’ made it through their biggest flood ever.