PHILIPPINES: Help pledged after Typhoon Haiyan hits
By John Pontifex
11 November 2013
Emergency help for people devastated by the typhoon in the Philippines is being promised by Aid to the Church in Need.
Amid reports that up to 10,000 people have died and 9 million affected, Aid to the Church in Need has pledged emergency aid in support of the massive relief programme needed for the hundreds of thousands of people whose homes, lives and businesses have been reduced to rubble.
With gusts of up to 250kph (151mph), Typhoon Haiyan – named 'Yolanda' by the Filipino authorities – ploughed through towns and villages over the weekend, leaving a trail of destruction, especially in Leyte and Samar provinces where it first struck.
Hundreds of thousands of survivors are desperately awaiting aid and Philippines President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity.
Aid to the Church in Need, which gives significant ongoing support to the Church in the Philippines, has signalled the charity's willingness to respond to emergency requests for help from bishops and other religious leaders.
The charity, which has appealed for prayer for the Philippines, stated that its aid would also go towards long-term re-building work, especially pastoral support.
Reports from Filipino clergy point to the scale of the catastrophe and the urgent need for support, notably temporary shelter.
Father Edione, San de Antique diocese director of social action, stated: "The winds were powerful. It battered us for two hours, it fell silent for a few minutes; then it came back for another two hours as if grinding everything to the ground."
He said that in his diocese 60 percent of houses were either damaged or totally destroyed.
But Fr Edione added that casualties in the area were low because of precautions including early evacuation procedures in place as a result of the many similar storms affecting the Philippines over the years.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, which smashed into the Philippines on Friday (8th November), has been described as one of the strongest of its kind ever recorded but the number killed comparatively low, thanks in part to early evacuation and other safety precautions.
And yet, the extent of the disaster quickly became clear with Church sources saying early on that 4.5 million people were affected, a figure which quickly doubled, according to BBC sources.
After hitting Leyte and Samar coastal provinces with 5.5 metre (18ft) high storm surges, Typhoon Haiyan struck six central Philippine islands and affected 40 cities, notably Tacloban, which is 95 percent destroyed.
Tacloban was reported to be inaccessible but, once communications are established, clergy have stated that 15 parish chapels all over the city will act as distribution points.
St Nino's Shrine, in Tacloban's Real Street, has been assigned as the drop-off point for relief goods.
According to Church sources in the Archdiocese of Jaro, in Iloilo 95 percent of homes in one of the towns were badly damaged.
Sr Mapath Bulawan in Bogo, Cebu, said that people from Bogo, Daanbantayan and Bantayan Island were left homeless.
Parish priests in Busuanga and Coron Palawan, reported that 600 families from the Tagbanua tribe had lost their houses and were appealing for food.