02 October 2009

SBMA sends help to Ondoy victims in Metro Manila

As typhoon "Pepeng" moved closer to Philippine territory on Wednesday, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) kicked its rescue and relief operations into higher mode to help provide food and other basic necessities to flood victims in Metro Manila, as well as search for missing persons in the aftermath of the “Ondoy” tragedy.

Early yesterday, the SBMA sent out some P300,000-worth of relief goods, rescue vehicles, rubber boats, and another batch of trained rescue personnel to the flood-ravaged Marikina in response to the call for assistance made by the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

The SBMA emergency contingent dispatched yesterday was composed of firemen, harbor patrol personnel, and even common employees willing to set up camp to help out in various operations at the emergency station set up by PNRC at the Blue Leaf Events Pavilion in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

A search and rescue team was first dispatched on Sunday, along with rubber boats and other emergency equipment, to the Marikina area.

SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, who is also a director of the PNRC, said 1,100 bags of relief goods, each containing five kilos of rice, four cans of sardines and six packs of instant noodles, were hastily packed by SBMA employees “to immediately build up the food stock” at the PNRC station.

The SBMA also sent 35 bales of used clothing, along with some 12 cavans of rice, Arreza said.

Arreza explained that more goods coming from the Subic Bay Freeport area will follow, as the SBMA gathers more donations from the hundreds of business locators in this free port.

“It has become a tradition here to send out goods to calamity-stricken areas where the SBMA rescue team is dispatched,” Arreza said.

“When SBMA rescue equipment and personnel are stationed in an area, one might as well expect goods from the Subic community pouring in soon,” he added.

Arreza also said that the trained SBMA emergency personnel were specifically sought by the PNRC, which currently lacks operators for their recently-acquired fire trucks.

The SBMA firemen, after assessing the situation, will embark on cleaning operations in the mud-inundated communities of Marikina, he said.

As the SBMA called for volunteers to help in the search, rescue and relief efforts, some SBMA employees left the comfort of their offices and joined the agency’s emergency team.

“This is one of the greatest sources of personal satisfaction for us — to be able to help our countrymen who are in dire need,” said Sander Lucban, an SBMA warehouseman who joined SBMA's humanitarian mission.

With only a single set of spare clothes, Lucban said he is willing to extend his scheduled one-day stay at the PNRC camp if his services would be needed in the coming days.

“The boss (Arreza) need only say so. We are ready,” he said, speaking on behalf of the 17 other volunteers from his department.

The SBMA rescue team, which has set itself apart for the exhaustive training of its personnel and its modern equipment, is being dispatched almost all over Luzon to conduct various rescue operations.

Before the typhoon “Ondoy” tragedy, the SBMA rescue team was busy in Botolan, Zambales, which was also hit by floods after a series of typhoons beginning last month. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: SBMA employees load up trucks with some P.3-million worth of relief goods for flood victims in Metro Manila, as SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza looks on. The SBMA also sent out its emergency team to help in search and rescue operations in flood-ravaged communities.