Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Philippines: Damage Reports and an Appeal

The Philippines:
Damage Reports and an Appeal

Compiled mainly from ANS and FMA news services

The Salesian mission offices around the globe have sprung into action in support of the operations to help the people devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, which ripped through the central Philippines on Friday, November 8. Salesian Missions in New Rochelle is one of the centers answering the Congregation’s urgent appeal for aid to the victims.


“Salesians were on the ground and able to respond immediately,” said Fr. Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, referring to the fact that Salesians have been working to help vulnerable children and families in the Philippines since 1950. “But they need additional help, and we are responding to that call.”

Haiyan carried maximum sustained winds of 195 mph. (Some media reported that such winds were recorded at sea, and the winds over land were appreciably weaker.) According to the New York Times (November 9), the unusual speed with which the hurricane passed through the islands lessened the damage that it might otherwise have caused from wind and rain. Nevertheless, news media report that the death toll as of November 14 is almost 2,400; they also predict that it may climb to 10,000. About 620,000 people have been displaced, 2,000 are unaccounted for, and 10 million people have been otherwise affected. About 4 million children have been deprived of their families.

Reports from the SDB Northern Province (FIN), based in Manila, indicate that the works there did not suffer much damage. The same was true of the FMA works in the northern islands.

from SDB Annuario 2013
The SDB and FMA communities on Cebu Island (see adjacent map) suffered no major damage, since they are located south of the worst of the typhoon’s winds and water. The FMAs’ Mary Help of Christians School at Minglanilla along Cebu’s east coast sheltered 800 persons for two days, feeding them with food supplies (photo below) that had been collected earlier for the relief of earthquake victims on Bohol Island (stricken on October 15). The sisters and volunteers took turns cooking noodles, rice, and canned goods. They also provided for their basic necessities, listened to their stories, and consoled them. There is heavy damage in the houses of children from the youth center and the school. Electricity and communications were cut off in almost the entire province and were partially restored after two days.

The East Asia regional meeting of ACSSA (Salesian History Association) had just concluded, and the return flights of many of the participants were cancelled. They were able to depart when the storm had passed.

Two SDB communities were in Haiyan’s direct path, one in Borongan in East Samar Province, and the other in Dumnagas in Iloilo Province on Panay Island. No communication is currently possible with these two communities. The community in Borongan City, however, had reported that the city was chosen as the command post for relief operations in Eastern Samar Island. There are three Salesians working in that community.

At the FMAs’ St. Mary Mazzarello School in Negros Occidental Province, trees were uprooted, electric poles fell down, and the roofs of the library building were stripped away. Electricity was restored in the school after two days, but a large part of the neighboring towns will need more than a week to get their power back. Classes are still suspended. Several students lost their houses while others suffered heavy damage.

At Mary Help of Christians School in Mindoro Oriental Province on Mindoro Island, roofs of the boys’ dormitory were blown away, trees were uprooted, and drainage was blocked, causing a knee-high flood. On Mindoro the parents of two FMAs were admitted to the hospital.

The typhoon made its sixth and last landfall in the northern part of Palawan Island, where the FMA community is at Puerto Princesa in the island’s center. There hasn’t been any news from there (as of November 12).

One sister reported that her family sustained heavy property damage at Coron on Busuanga Island in the Visayas archipelago, directly stricken by the typhoon, but the family are unharmed.

As of November 8, from the news that the FMAs had received, the families and relatives of the sisters are safe, except that they had not yet gotten any news of families from Tacloban on Leyte Island, where 90% of the buildings were flattened.

From the Web page of the FMAs
The provincial communities in both Manila and Cebu City (FIS) are functioning with normal communications. The SDB communities of both FIN and FIS and the FMA Province (based in Manila) have joined the national drive for relief efforts on behalf of the people who have lost their homes, property, and even their loved ones in the typhoon and its aftermath, which has included shortages of food and potable water, medical supplies, sanitation, and shelter.

FIS suspended various activities to concentrate on emergency relief operations. Students, teachers, and lay collaborators in our institutes are involved in the collection, preparation, and packing of relief goods that will be sent to the various islands affected by the typhoon.

The 266 SDBS and the FMAs operating in the country are currently all engaged in coordinating aid to the population and providing first aid to the needy. The Salesian houses in Cebu were chosen as the Official Help Center, in cooperation with the National Crisis Management Unit. 25,000 emergency kits have already been distributed from there.

Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, Salesian bishop of Maasin, Leyte, writes: “By God’s mercy and loving care, my diocese had been spared from great destruction. A parish church has been damaged at the roof. We have mobilized our faithful for help for our neighboring dioceses. We have no electricity till now and for the coming weeks. Fuel is in limited supply. Food is still available in the local market. For now, we try to gather from our faithful as much help as we can to extend to the neighbors in dire need.”

The FMAs reported on November 13 from Thai Binh, Vietnam, on Haiyan’s progress into Vietnam and southern China:

The passage of Typhoon Haiyan leaves us no pause. After provoking thousands of deaths in the Philippines, on November 11 at about 4:00 a.m., the typhoon reached landfall in Vietnam, where it weakened and then proceeded toward southern China. The province of Quang Ninh was the hardest hit. According to the first estimates made by the civil protection of the Asian nation, it left at least 14 dead, 4 dispersed, and about 80 wounded. The consequence was a huge flood that provoked a lot of damage to homes (more than 2,000) and ships (about 90). The typhoon also passed through the province of Thai Binh, where our community of Trai Gao is situated, although it was weaker by then. The FMAs and the girls are safe. The people with their experience immediately helped the sisters to safeguard the house. Due to this, there was only one roof tile blown away. Many trees were knocked down by the strong wind, and some roofs of the houses in Thai Binh were blown away, but no one was hurt. The Vietnamese people set up a “refuge” to weather the storm. Many persons left their homes to take refuge there. Even if their homes were lost, at least their lives were safe. Let us strengthen our solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Vietnam and in the Philippines while we entrust ourselves to the prayers and the support of everyone.

From the Web page of the FMAs

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