A woman in Bangui, Philippines, stands outside her house damaged by a fallen tree Oct. 20 after Typhoon Haima hit. Heavy damage was reported to homes and farmland in the northern Philippines after the strongest storm in three years struck overnight. CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters

Church set to help Philippines in wake of Super Typhoon Haima

  • October 20, 2016

With eight dead and towns and villages once again covered in debris, Filipinos are turning to their Church for help as they dig out after Super Typhoon Haima smashed into the northern Philippines Oct. 19 with sustained winds of 225 kilometres per hour and gusts of 315.

It’s the biggest storm since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 7,300.

In Montreal, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has been monitoring the situation and is expecting its first requests for help from Caritas Philippines today. In 2013 and 2014 Development and Peace raised over $12 million for relief and reconstruction after Typhoon Haiyan.

“We are getting twice-a-day updates from our counterpart NASSA-Caritas Philippines,” said Development and Peace programs officer for Development and Peace Jess Agustin.

Haima hit just as Development and Peace is ramping up its response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti – a storm of similar strength that killed 546 Haitians and left nearly $3 billion in damage.

The last status report from Caritas Philippines before the storm hit outlined five dioceses that were geared up for action.

In the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, Province of Cagayan parishes that had been designated as evacuation centres by local government had prepositioned relief supplies in their churches and church halls. In the Diocese of Ilagan, Province of Isabela, 90 families had been evacuated before the storm hit. In the Diocese of Laoag, Province of Ilocos Norte, disaster warnings had been read at all Masses. In the Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk, Province of Kalinga, disaster response was being co-ordinated out of the vicariate’s pastoral centre in Bulanao, Tabuk City and San Isidro Parish in Agbanawag, Tabuk City was set up as a relief staging area for disaster crews.

In the Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc Lagawe, all parish and diocesan volunteers were on standby as the storm hit.

Caritas Philippines, along with staff from the Dutch Caritas agency Cordaid and the American Catholic aid agency Catholic Relief Services, had formed rapid assessment teams to survey the damage. Aerial and on-the-ground assessments are fed into SkyEye Analytics Inc. system set up in 2009 by United Nations-affiliated agencies.

NASSA-Caritas Philippines is providing updates on its Facebook page.

Locally, Filipinos have renamed the typhoon “Lawin.”

The more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines endure an average of 20 significant tropical storms every year.

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