Franklin Graham takes a first-hand look at the devastation in the Philippines and our work to help disaster victims.
Franklin Graham witnessed the incredible damage inflicted by Typhoon Haiyan and saw the work our team is doing to help suffering people while in the storm-ravaged nation on Monday.
“Every rooftop, every house you can see is damaged,” Graham said. “The needs are huge: water, food, shelter, sanitation. Through church partners, we can make a difference in this part of the world.”Help Disaster Victims Around The WorldGraham visited a church in Tanauan destroyed by the typhoon’s winds and storm surge.
“The wind was so strong, and there were so many objects flying,” Pastor John Pagliawan said. “It was unimaginable.”
He survived the storm by climbing into the rafters of his office along with his wife, teenage daughter, and almost 90-year-old mother. His young son and 15 other friends and relatives escaped in the same manner above the parsonage. At one point, as he ran between the locations, the water reached his chest.
“We were praying that God would show His miracle,” he said. “Had it not been for God’s grace all of us would have perished.”
Winds ripped the roofs off of the church’s facilities, which include an elementary school, and the storm surge wreaked havoc with everything else.
When Graham visited in the afternoon, John was drying his books, including a copy of The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook.
After a tour of the church’s damage, Graham prayed with John and his family, thanking God for saving them. Graham committed to sending new Billy Graham training Bibles and hymn books for the congregation to replace what was submerged by the flood.
The church held its first Sunday service the day before Graham’s visit underneath a carport tent donated by Samaritan’s Purse.
Also in Tanauan, Graham met with Mayor Pel Tecson. They talked about leadership and the long rebuilding process ahead.
Samaritan’s Purse has already distributed more than 7,000 tarps, which will provide temporary shelter to so many now exposed to the blazing sun and hard rains characteristic of this time of year. Barangay (District) captains were given the plastic and empowered to give them to the most needy.
“Your organization has been a source of inspiration and hope for the people here,” Mayor Tecson said. “You have made many people smile.”
Graham finished his visit of project sites at the mobile field hospital on the grounds of Schistosomiasis Hospital in Palo. The field hospital saw 96 patients in its first day of operation.
Graham encouraged the Samaritan’s Purse medical team to represent Christ.
“Be His hands, His feet, His voice,” he said. “Love these people.”
We are also working with the hospital, serving alongside the local staff of doctors and nurses to treat patients.
“The staff and personnel would like to say thank you very much for being here to help the medical needs,” Dr. Charlemagne Esape, administrator of Shistosomiasis Hospital, told Graham. “I know your presence is a very big welcome.”
Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines on November 8. Some reports indicated that the storm hit Eastern Samar Province and the northern tip of Cebu Province with sustained winds of 195 miles per hour and gusts up to 235 miles per hour. Storm surges along the coast of more than 20 feet were reported.
Haiyan is the strongest typhoon in the world this year and one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. The Philippine government has estimated the death toll at 5,235. More than 4.1 million were displaced.
“They need our prayers,” Graham said. “It’s going to take years for the Philippines to rebuild and recover.”
Samaritan’s Purse deployed a team of disaster response specialists in the immediate aftermath of the storm. We currently have more than four dozen staff on the ground.
“We are a Christian organization,” Graham said. “God does love them. Some people think in times like this God is mad at us, but God loves us. God wants to use His people to bring comfort and hope.”
We have one base of operations in Cebu City, where we are partnering with local churches to distribute food packets and hygiene kits.
A second base is in Tacloban City, a city of about 220,000 people on Leyte Island that was devastated by the typhoon. We are working there and in the surrounding communities of Palo, Tanauan, Tolosa, Dulag, and Pastrana to provide shelter materials, clean water, and medical care.
Many of the supplies were airlifted from Charlotte, N.C., on a 747 cargo aircraft. The supplies have been transported to affected areas on Cebu Island, Bantayan Island, and Leyte Island.