Surigao City earthquake victims need trauma counselling

22 Mar, 2017 | Philippines
OM International
6.7 magnitude Surigao Earthquake destroys houses
Seven days after an earthquake in Surigao City, OM Philippines sent over a team to assess the situation in affected areas.  The areas reported more need for trauma counselling than for relief items.

A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake rocked Surigao City on February 10, 2017, with an epicenter 14 km northwest of the city. The earthquake affected 60 barangays (villages), 1,790 families, and 9,320 individuals. Eight were recorded dead and more than 200 were injured.

At least 11 towns were severely affected by the quake, which also damaged the Provincial government building, two major bridges, and other infrastructures. Power and electricity supply in the quake-affected areas were back three days after the incident.

“Most of the badly damaged infrastructures were those of government properties and privately-owned establishments. There were only few residential houses slightly damaged. Businesses and offices were almost back to normal within the city,” Cres Baterna, OM Philippines staff reported.

He also added that there is already enough flow of supply for relief operations delivered by the government and several broadcast media companies.

The team experienced several aftershocks ranging from 2.0-4.5 magnitude during their visit. Those aftershocks caused local people to have heightened trauma.

“With an assessment done together with representatives from other Christian agencies like Youth with a Mission and Assembly of God Churches, we observed a greater need for trauma counselling for people dealing with aftershocks. As of now, there is only one team from the government doing counselling and people still need to go to the city hall for debriefing and counselling,” Baterna explained.

Moreover, there has not been enough disaster response training among the locals on how to handle calamities like earthquakes and flooding. The request of most pastors coordinated from 50 different churches would be trainings in disaster response and Psychological First Aid (PFA).

The OM team understands these needs as they reflect on several years of working directly with communities affected by a series of disasters. With this, OM Philippines is now working closely with various government agencies, churches and other organisations to conduct disaster relief trainings in a number of affected areas in Surigao City in the coming weeks.

As the team has seen how these trainings effectively met the needs for deeper emotional and spiritual healing to those traumatised by disasters in other areas of the Philippines, they pray that this could also happen in Surigao and hopefully to the rest of the areas in Mindanao; the part of the Philippines buffeted with a great number of man-made and natural calamities, including insurgencies and Muslim extremists.

Please pray for the local people in Surigao and also pray for the OM team coordinating and conducting the series of trainings. Pray that this may open wide doors of ministry to many communities which remain to be reached in Mindanao.

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