Neighborhood destroyed by fire June 11, 2008
By Tim Roach
| Philippine |
(note: more photos are at bottom of page.)
There is more information updated June 17, 2008 click here to be taken to that page.
The late PM night of June 11, 2008 started out like most any other. Families at home, taking care of their children, talking, watching TV, listening to the radio, preparing for bed or for some already asleep as they have to get up very early the next morning.
Some time during the night the power went out. This is not unusual and most expect it to happen from time to time and have flash lights, candles or oil lamps ready and waiting for the outages.
Unfortunately, this night when the power went out someone in the community made a critical mistake and placed the lamp a little to close to some flammable material. Perhaps being distracted by a child that was crying, trying to hurry to take care of the little one. Perhaps some other careless mistake.
Some people are probably not aware that many of the communities in the Philippines are made predominantly out of wood and other flammable materials, each home connected to the other with no firewalls and often no separation between the homes. Each home literally side by side with each wall touching the next.
As the person returned from calming the child they found the wall ablaze and everything starting to burn out of control. Try as every one might with all wood and other flammable materials there was no stopping the fire and it quickly spread from home to home. Barely leaving some enough time to get out of their house before it was completely engulfed, leaving many with literally just what they were wearing.
While the fire departments responded, most of the trucks in this area resemble the models that would be seen in a very old movie. Water tanks that are much to small to realistically have any effect on the blaze and there are no fire hydrants anywhere in the area. While the crews did all they could. Unfortunately, realistically, about all they could do is try to stop the blaze from spreading to the next streets and other communities.
The next Morning June 12, 2008, even though out the day, there were no organizations to be seen that claim to be here to offer assistance for such tragedies. Just people waiting for the rubble to cool enough so they could try to find anything thing might be left of their life other than ashes.
This is a problem that is especially frustrating to me. For there are many groups though out the region that get funding from the US and other countries that claim they are here to help people. Yet to the best of my knowledge, none showed up to even look at the tragedy. Much less do anything to realistically help.
While there are a lot of problems with the government with corruption and other issues that I often speak out against. In this case I have to give the local leaders a lot of positive credit.
The local barangay (community/town) leadership was doing the best it can with what it has available and providing at least a temporary location for the people to be out of the sun and rain. A simple open air covered meeting hall, a covered meeting stage. But surprisingly they also opened up several of the government offices to allow people to temporarily stay in those as well.
If I had seen what was going on here with out having lived in the area for sometime I would be appalled by the conditions. However, realizing what is here and what is available, the leadership is doing remarkably well with very few recourses.
In an area where people have so little, this loss is really going to hurt a lot of families for a very long time and potentially many will never really recover. For insurance is a very rare commodity here. As it is very expensive and even in a situation like this would likely not even cover what one would have paid in premiums. (According to what I have been told. Of course the insurance companies have a very different statement.)
This is one of those situations where I wish I had good solid financial recourses to pull from to be able to do something more to help these families.
At this point I will do what I can, but it will be far from even making a scratch in all the loss that so many have experienced.
|Child poking through the smoldering ashes for anything that might be left from where he lived.|
As the ashes cool enough for people to enter, people start looking for anything that might be left from their homes.
|People looking though the debris for anything from their home that might have survived.||More people coming to look for any remains of their life.|
Man with his children waiting to get information from officials.
One of the shelters being used for the people that lost their homes.
A covered outdoor stage being use as shelter.
Some of the government offices that the local officials allowed to be used for temporary shelter.
People starting to gather as the officials start calling everyone to give some information about what all is being done.
A lady and her grandchild listening to the information.
Some of the kids asking me why I was taking pictures and wanted me to take their picture also. The boy on the left was "afraid" of the girls and would not stand any closer.
This little guy was a lot more interested with what I was doing than what the local officials were saying.
| Philippine |