“Ruby is the strongest typhoon I have ever felt. It seemed like we would fall down when we went outside because of the really strong winds,” recounts Ana Helen Docabo, a resident of Barangay (Village) Buenavista, Dolores, Eastern Samar, and a mother of five children.
“Our coconut trees collapsed. Everything fell. It was a real challenge,” she adds.
Typhoon Ruby was the biggest typhoon to pass through the Philippines in 2014. During its initial entry in the country, Ruby was being compared to the 2013 Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in terms of magnitude. Ruby diminished in strength as it made several landfalls in the Philippines. The residents of Dolores, however, still felt the impact of Ruby.
“What we experienced during Typhoon Ruby was very difficult,” shares Ma. Lourdes ‘Ondith’ Senina, also a mother of five from Barangay Libertad in Dolores. “That was the first time I lived through a storm of such strength – from my childhood up until now. What worsened the situation was that the typhoon brought with it flooding as well.”
The national and local government of the Philippines were largely praised for the way they prepared for Typhoon Ruby which resulted to minimal damage and casualties compared to Yolanda.
Helen and Ondith were also instrumental to facilitating the preparations before Ruby hit, in their capacity as both parent leaders, 4Ps family heads who volunteer with DSWD by coordinating between the government agency and other family heads in their community.
“Our local government officials as well as co-members of the 4Ps (DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) assist in organizing the communities before a typhoon so that once it arrives, we are already prepared, there will be no accidents and injuries. We learned this from one of our Family Development Sessions with DSWD,” Helen explained.
DSWD included the Family and Community Disaster Preparedness component in its Family Development Sessions to equip the 4Ps families with basic knowledge on disaster preparedness and response. The sessions involved topics on typhoon and earthquake preparedness, emergency kit provisions, and evacuation assistance and coordination.
“I became a parent leader because it helps me, personally. It adds to my knowledge, enhances my talent in writing, as well as in speaking with other people,” said Ondith.
Immediately after the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby, WFP in partnership with DSWD was able to distribute food to 100,000 families in Eastern Samar, Western Samar, and Northern Samar.
“We were able to receive food from DSWD and WFP,” said Ondith. “It was such a big help at that time because, for example, if we had no rice to cook, we could eat the food provided to tide us over.”
In addition to food, 4Ps families such as those of Ondith and Helen, also received a one-time unconditional cash grant of Php 2,600. A total of 6,700 families from the municipalities of Can-Avid, Dolores, Jipapad, and Taft in Eastern Samar were provided with the cash grant to diversify their access to food and jumpstart the local markets.
“With this Php 2,600, I plan to buy rice, meat, and other nutritious food for my family,” shared Ondith.
“Aside from food, I will also set aside the cash assistance for my children’s education. We need money for tuition fee and other needs,” explained Helen.
Ondith and Helen are thankful for the assistance they received from DSWD and WFP as it helped them restart their lives after Ruby.
“Thank you to the World Food Programme for this unconditional cash grant. This assistance is a big help to us victims of Typhoon Ruby,” said Ondith.
“I am grateful for the partnership between DSWD and WFP because they were able to support us 4Ps members with the cash assistance. Thank you very much,” Helen added.