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Philippines: Helping flood victims through social media

Typhoon Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) has already left the Philippines but in her aftermath, a trail of destruction with over 100 dead, 300,000 families displaced, nearly 80 percent of the nation's capital region flooded and millions worth of damages to property and infrastructure.

Gail Villanueva recalls that thanks to Ondoy, she has seen the worst flooding of her lifetime:

I don’t normally blog immediately about calamities like this, but this flood is the worst I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. I’ve lived along Katipunan Avenue in Blue Ridge since the day I was born, so I never really experienced flooding (Blue Ridge is pretty high up, it’s on top of a hill). First time ever for my family — flood reached inside our home.

Ade Magnaye is thankful he's made it through “hell” and has survived:

This is one of the worst things that everyone here has gone through in recent memory, and us who are lucky enough to be able to stay in their warm and cozy homes, and just shake their heads in disbelief at the pictures and videos of Ondoy’s rampage, should be able to do something to help those who were hit hard.

Crystal Gale retells unforgettable stories her family and loved ones experienced at the hands of Ondoy:

In my almost 24 years of existence, this is the first I experienced extreme flooding here in Metro Manila..Me and my family are lucky because our house have 2nd and 3rd floor and our village is a little higher than the rest of the area around us but my other relatives and my boyfriend was not as lucky…my brother got home very late last night because he got stranded in their office in Libis..my relatives who lives in Sta. Mesa, Manila (their houfse is just beside Pasig river) is still stranded on the second floor of their house until now without food and water because the water is still 6ft deep..another relative of mine was already on their 3rd floor because the water was already covering the second floor of their house..my best friend and her mom was stuck without any food too on their office in Del Monte and was just able to get home this lunch..and the most sad news for me is when I learned yesterday that my boyfriend with his family had been evacuated from their house in Novaliches, Quezon City because their house was submerged completely until the roof. They need to walk on top of the roof of the houses just so they can go to a higher place in their subdivision..I got so nervous yesterday when I can't contact him and that is the reason..They were very busy in surviving especially with a 7months old baby on their arms. They were unable to salvage anything! No clothes or foods or any personal stuff. According to him, their house got flooded in less than an hour! That's how fast the water level came up. It is because their house is near a small stream and Novaliches is near Angat Dam (why did they not give any warning that they need to open the dam?!)..This is the very first time our place got flooded!

Joy Imperial recounts her unforgettable events during the visit of Ondoy in the Manila:

  • A bus was submerged in the crossing of Araneta-Erodriguez where only the roof can be seen.
  • Kariton houses (shanties) were floating from nowhere.
  • A man and his dog on a roof floating on the river of flood. We never knew whatever happened to him afterwards.
  • In a nearby place, people died in electrocution while their houses are burning in fire.
  • Trailer trucks were used to transport stranded passengers. It was literally filled.
  • People and starving and dehydrated on the of the roofs. Kids crying of hunger. Old people who can do nothing but sit still in their spots.
  • No electricity. No food. No potable water.
  • Tons of mud, dirt and garbage were the residue of the flood
  • Almost all belongings were damaged and submerged in flood.
  • Oil spills everywhere.
  • Some people got wounded while walking on the roofs
  • My uncle experienced several attacks of hypertension
  • One sari-sari store was robbed with cigarettes and rum.

Social networking sites and services like Facebook and Twitter were also flooded with news accounts, reports, photos and videos of Ondoy's aftermath. The stream of information soon became a “hub” for coordinating rescue and relief efforts for those who had access to the internet. A sampling of a Twitter stream that shows links to efforts in supporting the victims of typhoon Ondoy:

Si_Pio ICT People for the People: Help Support Typhoon Ondoy Victims. Donations, Volunteers accepted. Details: www.cp-union.com/ondoy-relief
half a minute ago from web

itsjustzee @KalebNation US citizens who want to help check this out instead: http://bit.ly/JoBpO #Ondoy
less than a minute ago from TweetDeck

jonasdiego says @parishilton tweets about Ondoy, calls for aid: http://tinyurl.com/y8zg8dw http://plurk.com/p/22teh2
less than a minute ago from API

nevitsky RT @ka_edong: we're creating dashboard. Who wants to help moderate Ondoy info? http://bit.ly/13zJUt chat here: http://tinychat.com/ondoy
1 minute ago from UberTwitter

fatma_aleah *groans* RT @ANCALERTS “Ondoy” death toll clims to 86 with 32 still missing
1 minute ago from Sun Alertz

VivatRegina US citizens who want to help check this out instead: http://bit.ly/JoBpO #Ondoy
1 minute ago from TweetDeck

riapazzi Support One 4 Ondoy, add a #twibbon to your avatar now! – http://twibbon.com/join/One-4-Ondoy-5
1 minute ago from Twibbon

The stream continues to flow as of this writing. In consonance, bloggers have pitched in and have clobbered together a comprehensive list of support hotlines, websites and links to online donation facilities, evacuation & support centers, power utilities and government & international emergency agencies.

As Blog Herald Editor Jayvee Fernandez notes that it has become so epic, it has its own Tumblr account.

As bloggers and netizens continue to compile ways of how to help the victims of typhoon Ondoy even producing a comprehensive list they called “Rescue Hub Info Central” via Google Spreadsheets, it just goes to show that government and mainstream emergency & relief agencies are no longer alone in their fight to support the victims of natural calamities. In this ever increasing connected and online world, support, relief coordination, news & reporting has now become a few clicks and tweets away.

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