Dear Confreres and Friends,
The recent typhoon here in Central Philippines, particularly in the Leyte and Samar Provinces, has been extremely heart-breaking. The super typhoon was very strong (up to 250 kilometers speed per hour). Many towns in Leyte have been washed out because of the storm surge; the level of sea water rose up to fifteen feet and washed out complete towns not just houses. The Guanella Center has not been damaged because it is far from the area.
Around 12,000 are missing and still counting. Strong structures have been totally destroyed like big churches, hotels, schools, and even the airport in Tacloban City has been severely damaged.
One of our seminarian’s father and one sibling is in Leyte and we have had no communications, no news because until now the whole province of Leyte has been without electricity. Fr. Dong’s family is okay. We are still in contact with the family of Raffy, our special child residing with us, who are in Samar. I think Samar was hit but not as bad as Leyte.
Assistance locally and abroad is being organized now from all groups: Church, government and non-government organizations. We as a community are also accepting donations and we will try to help people directly that we know who were affected. Some of the help we receive will go to Caritas Manila, or other Religious Congregations that we know who are in the affected area.
In spite of the devastating calamity, the faith of the Filipino people remains strong. Thanks be to God! Everything is grace! We continue to hope and we are sure that we shall see the beautiful sun shining in our hearts again!
Fr. Charlton, SdC
We also have had a positive report from our confreres in Legazpi City. They have suffered no damage or loss. Reports of their assistance to others is forthcoming. Please pray that on this feast of Our Lady of Providence that our brothers and sisters will be provided with all that they need and that their faith in Divine Providence will increase.
For those in the United States who would like to give financial assistance can contact Fr. Paul Oggioni at the Pious Union of St. Joseph, 953 East Michigan Ave, Grass Lake MI 49240 or by phone at (517)522-8017. The Pious Union of St. Joseph can also be found on the internet at piousunionofstjoseph.org. Checks can be made out to: Servants of Charity.
From the AP:
The relief effort to bring food, water, clothing, and other necessities to the central Philippine islands hard-hit by Typhoon Yolanda essentially started on Monday, reported The Associated Press. The news agency reported that bloated bodies are seen floating in the water, unaccounted for, as body bags or a means for disposal aren’t available.
Over the weekend, the Philippine government deployed police to hard-hit areas to prevent people from looting food, water, and items including TVs–especially in Tacloban City–which was essentially leveled by high winds and a 20-foot-high storm surge.
Two officials on Sunday said the typhoon may have killed as many as 10,000 people, but it is unclear if that many died. The official death toll remained well below that.
The devastation also forced President Benigno Aquino III to declare a state of national calamity, reported GMA News, which added that there will be a price ceiling on basic items and necessities.
The declaration, he said, would “hasten the action of the government to rescue, provide help, and rehabilitate the provinces affected by Yolanda.”
“This is important not just to control prices of primary products and services needed by our countrymen, but also to avoid overpricing and hoarding of important goods,” he said, according to Rappler.
James Reynolds, a storm-chaser, said that he was in Tacloban when the storm hit.
“It was just a deafening roar, the wind screaming. You could feel the building shaking as large objects were crashing into the side of the hotel. For anyone out in the street exposed to it, it would have been instant death,” he was quoted by ABS-CBN as saying.
“Thankfully in our hotel everyone made it out safely, but the next day we could see bodies of people lying in the vicinity of the hotel, people who didn’t make it through the storm,” Reynolds told the news agency. ”I ventured down right to the coastline where a community had basically been wiped out. It looked like a tsunami had come through, shell-shocked citizens sifting through the rubble of their homes, trying to calculate if they had anything left at all. It was every man, woman and child for themselves. We saw desperate people looting for food, water and medicine.”
“I don’t believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house,” U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy told AP.
The United States said it is deploying aircraft carrier USS George Washington and other Navy ships to the Philippines to aid in the relief efforts.
“The aircraft carrier, which carries 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, is currently in Hong Kong for a port visit,” reads a statement from Pentagon press secretary George Little. “The crew is being recalled early from shore leave and the ship is expected to be underway later this evening.”