PHILIPPINES (BNc) — Much news about the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan (named Yolanda in the Philippines) is appearing in the media, but concrete information from our brethren is only dribbling out because lines of communication were damaged and destroyed.
The storm surge 15-20 feet high sent tsunami-like waves 45 feet high crashing to shore in some places. Ships were left sitting in city streets!
Especially hard hit areas include the island of Samar, Tacloban City on Leyte, and northern Cebu island. Surrounding islands in the central Visayas such as Panay and Bohol were heavily damaged, and also Oriental Mindoro and northern Palawan to the west as the storm headed back out to sea toward Vietnam.
The number of dead bodies located keeps climbing as it passes 2,200 with many areas still inaccessible. In places like Tacloban City mass burials have been necessary because of the health risk with bodies decaying in the rubble and standing water. The airport there served as a makeshift morgue.
Homes, crops, and trees were leveled by winds of 150-200 mph and the land was inundated with torrential rainfall. Nearly ten million people were affected and 600,000 displaced.
Pictures of the devastation can be seen at the DailyMail website.
The Philippine government, U.S. military, other governmental bodies around the world, and international relief agencies are trying to get supplies to the devastated areas, but much of the infrastructure is destroyed. Supply trucks have been waylaid.
In some cases, people foraging for food, water, and medicine are looting markets, grocery stores, and pharmacies in desperation. Mobs in Tacloban City attacked a rice warehouse and the walls collapsed killing and injuring more people. The Philippine military is trying to restore order.
Saints are scattered all through the regions hit by the storm. We are getting some news from saints on the island of Cebu. Jonathan Carino and other Filipino brethren in company with Harry Osborne were able to survey the damage at Bogo City in northern Cebu. Gil Suico who preaches there sent me a message that homes, fruit trees, and crops were severely damaged, which means the suffering will extend for weeks and months to come. A large percentage of the buildings in Bogo City were flattened and nearly all structures were damaged.
I received a report from brethren in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, that they suffered no major damage. There is word from Jack Jaco in the western part of the island, Negros Occidental, that brethren suffered damage there.
Jonathan and Harry have been trying to get to Tacloban City but cancelled their plans because of the breakdown of security. The New Peoples Army (Filipino communists) are flexing their muscle with raids because the government can hardly function.
Brother Nilo Zabala fled the city after NPA’s invaded his home and threatened him with death if he did not provide them with supplies. His family is camped in a damaged bus terminal.
Jonathan and Harry will take a ferry boat from Cebu City on Cebu Island to Ormoc City on Leyte. They hope to establish contact with brethren and assess their needs.
In view of the destruction of the infrastructure and communication, it is very hard to get a concrete assessment of our brethren’s needs, and also very hard to deliver funds and supplies when assessments can be made. We know immediate needs are the most basic items such as food, water, and medicines. Homes are destroyed. Church buildings collapsed and blew away. Bibles and song books were ruined and swept away.
Let us fervently pray for these dear saints, send whatever financial help we can, and commit ourselves not to forget their needs in the weeks and months ahead.
Individuals who might like to donate can send donations to Ron Halbrook, 3505 Horse Run Ct., Shepherdsville, KY 40165-6954.