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[PCUSANEWS] PDA sends $20, 000 to Pakistan to aid flood and quake victims

From News Service <newsservice@CTR.PCUSA.ORG>
Date Mon, 18 Sep 2006 14:17:11 -0400

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06475 September 18, 2006

PDA sends $20,000 to Pakistan to aid flood and quake victims

Additional money going to help volcano survivors in the Philippines

by Evan Silverstein

LOUISVILLE - Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has provided an additional $20,000 for ongoing relief and recovery efforts in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.

The money is being used to provide food and shelter for families displaced by severe flooding triggered in mid-July by heavier than normal monsoon rains that are expected to continue through this September, particularly in the NWFP.

The recently announced funding is also for ongoing relief efforts aimed at helping survivors of a massive earthquake last year that ripped through the NWFP and Pakistani-governed Kashmir, killing more than 75,000 people and leaving 3.5 million homeless.

The money, which comes from designated disaster funds, is being channeled to the region through Church World Service (CWS), a humanitarian relief agency related to the National Council of Churches.

"We gave to Pakistan because we have a very effective Church World Service office there," said PDA Coordinator Susan Ryan. "We know that the intervention will be well designed, timely and effective."

Last October, PDA allocated $60,000 to CWS to provide survivors of the Pakistan earthquake with tents, blankets, food, medical care, water and sanitation.

The record downpours throughout Pakistan have forced hundreds of families to flee villages and towns after many had just returned home following the devastating temblor, according to PDA, the disaster response and recovery arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Gushing floodwaters have killed more than 350 people in Pakistan and destroyed houses, roads, railroad tracks, water supplies, sewage pipes and crops, according to media agencies.

Officials in the town of Manshera in the North West Frontier Province said 65 people were killed and more than 100 injured in July when a hillside village of more than 40 houses was swept away by a mudslide caused by the heavy rain.

The destroyed village, Dadar, is 60 miles north of the Pakistan capital Islamabad in an area prone to landslides.

PDA said that contaminated water supplies have led to an increase in communicable diseases and gastrointestinal infections across the NWFP, the smallest of Pakistan's four provinces.

More than 250,000 people are being provided with access to safe water through a water and sanitation program, PDA said. A hygiene promotion team is conducting assessments and working to prevent the spread of disease from unsafe drinking water through training sessions and by distributing hygiene kits.

Philippines volcano

PDA has also allocated $10,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing money in response to a recent volcanic eruption in the Philippines.

The funds, which are being channeled through the National Council of Churches (NCC) in the Philippines, will be used to provide food and other assistance to 4,000 displaced families, PDA said.

The Mayon volcano, one of 22 active volcanoes in the Philippines, erupted July 14, sending lava flowing down its' slopes. Explosions and tremors continued through early August, PDA said.

A total of 9,905 families (48,261 individuals) had been forced to flee their homes by Aug. 21, seeking refuge in emergency centers set up across the impacted Albay Province, located about 211 miles southeast of Manila. No deaths were reported.

Agricultural assistance in the form of seeds and tools will be provided to 1,000 families. Another 1,000 families will be provided food-for-work assistance as they undertake activities of land preparation and clearing of roads and community facilities covered with mud or volcanic ash.

"The key thing is to restart the agriculture," Ryan said. "That's where the focus is because it really didn't impact a lot of houses. It really impacted the food security."

The NCC in the Philippines is responding to the disaster through Andurog Mayon, which is the disaster response committee of the churches working in Albay Province.

Rising 8,000 feet high, the Mayon volcano is part of the Bicol volcanic chain on the island of Luzon. It has had 47 eruptions in recorded history with the first occuring in 1616. The latest prior to this year's upheavel was a mild outpouring of lava in June 2001.

Mayon's last major eruption was in 1993 when 70 people died and more than 50,000 people were evacuated. Its most destructive eruption occurred Feb. 1, 1814 when lava flows buried the entire town of Cagsawa under ash and killed more than 1,300 people.

The Mayon volcano is famous among local and foreign tourists for its near-perfect conical shape despite dozens of eruptions in the past three centuries.

Hurricane response

PDA announced that 15 Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) have arrived along the Gulf Coast to work with the Presbytery of Mississippi and Presbyterian volunteer villages to assist with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

The new project is a partnership between the PC(USA)'s National Volunteers Office, the Presbytery of Mississippi and PDA.

For one year volunteers will participate in home reconstruction, office management, church transformation and new church development, provide staff for the PDA volunteer work villages, and assist in the overall management of the response.

Members of PDA's National Response Team are helping train the YAVs.

While much attention has been on Hurricane Katrina, PDA has posted a report on its Web site describing ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts in Port Charlotte, FL. The town was hit hard by Hurricane Charley, which battered southwest Florida on Aug. 13, 2004.

Charley was a Category 4 hurricane when it swept ashore packing 145 mph winds, destroying 40 percent of the homes in Charlotte County, which includes Port Charlotte, the report said. In addition, the powerful storm devastated towns like Punta Gorda and Naples.

Punta Gorda was so hard hit that First Presbyterian Church there was virtually demolished. First church in Port Charlotte was also badly damaged, among other Presbyterian congregations in southwest Florida.

Tourist destinations such as Sanibel Island and Marco Island were also among the areas badly impacted by Hurricane Charley.

The report, compiled with information from the Disaster News Network, said that more than 1,300 volunteers had donated their time to help families rebuild homes in Charlotte County alone. Yet despite the donated hours, volunteers remain a major need in the hardest hit counties.

About 100 homes in the Port Charlotte area still need repair with at least 30-40 dwellings thought to be unsalvageable, the report said.

To view the Punta Gorda report, log on to the PDA Web site.

Contributions for Pakistan flood and earthquake relief, Philippines volcano assistance, and 2005 U.S. hurricanes may be sent through normal mission-giving channels by designating gifts for the following accounts: Pakistan flood and earthquake, DR000038; Philippines volcano, DR000012; 2005 hurricanes, DR000169. Gifts by credit card can be made by calling PresbyTel at (800) 872-3283, or online at Checks payable to the PC(USA) marked with the designated account numbers can be mailed to: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Central Receiving, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY, 40202.

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