A number of international Christian relief agencies are reaching out to provide food, medicine and shelter to the many Filipinos affected by super typhoon Yolanda as death tolls are expected to climb into the thousands in the days ahead.
As many as 10,000 people are feared dead in the aftermath of of the disaster, which tore through the Philippines at speeds exceeding 150 mph on Friday. Officials reported on Sunday that the majority of deaths were due to drownings and collapsed buildings, and that at least 100 bodies have been discovered in Tacloban City alone.
“The rescue operation is ongoing. We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” local government Secretary Mar Roxas told the Philippines Sun Star. “All systems, all vestiges of modern living—communications, power, water—all are down. Media is down, so there is no way to communicate with the people in a mass sort of way.”
“The devastation is—I don’t have the words for it,” he added. “It’s really horrific. It’s a great human tragedy.”
Entire villages were flattened by Yolanda and other areas experienced severe devastation. High flooding also ravaged the islands as some watched in horror while their loved ones were swept away by the water.
“The hardest thing is … seeing your mother floating in the flood and you don’t know what to do. You just see her there and the only thing [left] is you have to save yourself,” Maryann Tayag, 29, told USA Today. “I could not save her because she drowned already, and it was not just water from the sea but mixed with dirty water—the color was black, like it came from the river, and it smelled like the canal.”
Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, told Reuters that the floods rose as high as 13 feet at the airport.
“It was like a tsunami,” he said. “We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”
A number of Christian relief agencies are now reaching out to assist those who are without food, shelter or clean water. Convoy of Hope, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, states that it already has teams on the ground ready to help.
“Our children’s feeding initiative serves more than 20,000 children in the Philippines and as a result, four containers of food and supplies were already en route and will be available as needed,” the organization outlines. “Convoy of Hope will be distributing food, water filters, shoes and other supplies to survivors.”
World Vision is also among those who are providing aid to the now ravaged country.
“World Vision is gathering resources to assist 1.2 million people (240,000 families) with food, non-food items, hygiene kits, emergency shelter, and protection, especially for children and women,” the organization explained on a special relief page on its website. “We are mobilizing more than 500 local staff. … At more than 100 evacuation centers in the affected area, the greatest needs include food, clean water, and emergency shelter supplies.”
The Phoenix-based relief organization Food for the Hungry said that it is likewise helping to provide food and shelter.
“While the rains and winds are beginning to subside, landslides will continue to unsettle communities,” it outlined. “We want to see the children of the Philippines thrive. And despite the tragedy of natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, we have faith that together, in prayer, God will provide.”
U.S. ships and aircraft have also been deployed to assist with search and rescue operations, as well as to help deliver emergency goods and supplies. Other organizations such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse are on the ground aiding those in need of assistance as well.
“Please continue to uphold in prayer our responding staff and the suffering people in the Visayas and other typhoon-stricken areas,” said World Vision Philippines director Josaias dela Cruz. “Now is the time to join our hearts, extend our helping hands, and work together to rebuild and uplift our fellow peoples’ lives.”
If death toll calculations are as feared, super typhoon Yolanda, also known as Haiyan, will be the deadliest storm to hit the Philippines in the nation’s history.