Responding to Typhoon Bopha

December 26, 2012 • Philippines

Samaritan's Purse provides help after a storm that struck the southern Philippines and caused over 1,000 deaths and widespread destruction

A powerful typhoon struck the southern Philippines on December 4, with wind speeds reaching 120 mph and torrents of rain causing flooding, landslides, and major damage to homes and businesses. Over 1,000 people were killed and more than 167,000 homes were damaged or destroyed because of Typhoon Bopha. About 765,000 people are displaced with many currently crowding evacuation centers or relatives’ homes for shelter. Eight hundred people are still missing and many bridges and roads are impassible. Power outages continue in some areas.

One area that Typhoon Bopha hit especially hard is the area of the Compostela Valley in New Bataan and in nearby Davao Oriental province. People’s livelihoods were wiped out as the flooding ruined crops and land.

Samaritan’s Purse has responded by sending an assessment team and connecting with local church partners to provide emergency aid.

“We visited New Bataan and saw what had been the village center, ” said disaster response team member Peter Ivermee. “When the wall of water hit the town, it washed everything away. From a population of 5,000, 400 are dead and 400 are still missing. As we stood there we met Rosalina. A few years before she had been a midwife in the two-story Health Center that had stood at the very spot we were standing on. She was in tears at the thought of those coworkers she had lost and the many friends and neighbors now in desperate plight.”

Samaritan’s Purse is working with local church partners in the Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces to help needy families get emergency food and other necessities, including rice, canned goods, milk, noodles, pots and pans for cooking, soap, and plastic containers.

One family we helped lost many relatives and friends in the typhoon. Daniel Sumbid and his wife and kids have been staying at the Andap High School because his home was destroyed. His business of selling bananas has also been wiped out because the crop was ruined and his land is covered with tons of rubble and mud. With only the clothes on their backs, the Sumbid family was desperate until Samaritan’s Purse staff and partners arrived with family food packs to provide some nourishment until more aid could come through. Team leader Nick Ledoux prayed for the family and they were very appreciative.

Another threat during a disaster of this magnitude is the spread of disease. Cholera, typhoid, and other diarrheal diseases result from the collapse of the clean water systems in an area. People can be drinking from a pipe and not know whether the water would make them sick or not. Ron Orcajado, Samaritan’s Purse water engineer, tested the water in an area and was relieved to tell families that the water was safe to drink. However, with so many people crowded into evacuation centers, water-borne diseases still remains a large concern for health authorities. To further complicate the situation, many hospitals and clinics have been washed away by the typhoon.

In addition to providing emergency supplies, Samaritan’s Purse staff has been giving spiritual support to families and pastors by encouraging them and praying with them for their needs.

“We visited with a man, Pastor Edgar, and prayed with him and other pastors after learning of the needs of their congregations so that, together, we can meet those needs,” Ivermee said.

Please join our staff in praying for those who have been affected by Typhoon Bopha and for our partners and staff members as they work to help those in desperate need.