Tarps Provide Critical Shelter
December 11, 2013 • Philippines
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Samaritan’s Purse has already distributed several million square feet of plastic sheeting to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines, and approximately 8 million more square feet is on its way to hard-hit areas.

It is the rainy season in the Philippines. Periods of drenching downpours are followed by periods of intense sun and high humidity.

The weather is adding to the misery for typhoon survivors who lost everything, including their homes.

Help Disaster Victims Around the WorldTarps provided by Samaritan’s Purse are an enormous help for residents struggling to keep dry. The shelter also shields men, women, and children from the searing Pacific sun.

“One of the most important relief items you can give after a disaster is a piece of plastic sheeting,” said Samaritan’s Purse Vice President Ken Isaacs.

Local construction materials skyrocketed in price following the November 8 storm, so good tarps are an important comfort for the immediate time being. Samaritan’s Purse distributes high-quality plastic sheeting (extrusion-laminated scrim-reinforced polyethylene) that can withstand the elements for years, though it is intended for short-term use.

Families line up to receive tarps in Barangay Cantariwis in Tolosa, Leyte. Officials try to ensure the most needy receive assistance.

Families line up to receive tarps in Barangay Cantariwis in Tolosa, Leyte. Officials try to ensure the most needy receive assistance.

In mid-November, Samaritan’s Purse distributed 7,000 tarps (each roughly 15-by-20 feet) in the town of Tanauan. Allotments were determined by the mayor’s office and then given to the 54 barangay (district/ward) captains who actually handed out the material to families.

When Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham visited the town on November 25, Mayor Pel Tecson thanked him and his organization.

“We are grateful,” Tecson said. “Your organization has been a source of inspiration and hope for the people here. You have made many people smile.”

Local pastor Joel Lerios, who has a civil engineering background, was among our church partners who helped with the tarp distribution in Tanauan. He used the time to build relationships with others in his community.

“It will take years for them to recover,” he said.

Pastor Joel brought an evangelist’s heart to his work at our distribution site in Tanauan, Leyte.

Pastor Joel brought an evangelist’s heart to his work at our distribution site in Tanauan, Leyte.

Pastor Lerios sees an opportunity to witness for Christ in the midst of this disaster. Even though church buildings have been destroyed, the believers’ evangelistic work does not stop.

“It’s very easy to bring them [nonbelievers] to the Lord when you build a relationship,” he said. “You don’t need to bring them to the church, we will bring them to Jesus in their homes.”

During another distribution in the nearby town of Tolosa, Johnny Depaz, Jr., was among those who received a tarp. Typhoon Haiyan blew the roof off his home, which suffered other structural damage as well.

“We thought it was the end of the world. We could not see anything around us because of the strong winds,” remembers Depaz, who worked as a security guard at a supermarket in Tacloban City before the storm.

Johnny Depaz, Jr., and his family are able to stay out of the rain thanks to a plastic tarp given to them by Samaritan’s Purse.

Johnny Depaz, Jr., and his family are able to stay out of the rain thanks to a plastic tarp given to them by Samaritan’s Purse.

The plastic sheeting and mosquito netting that Samaritan’s Purse gave Depaz are easing the burdens of his family as they try to make do for the short term. He lives with his wife, Dolor, who is expecting; their small daughter; and a brother-in-law.

“What Samaritan’s Purse gave us—tarp and mosquito nets—helps us a lot,” he said, “because it covers us from the rain and sun. We have a good sleep.”

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