Samaritan's Purse Responding to Catastrophic Super Typhoon
By James Lam
Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, causing widespread destruction and killing thousands.
The storm-one of the most powerful ever recorded-slammed into the island of Leyte early Friday morning with sustained winds reported as high as 195 mph and gusts up to 230 mph, flooding coastal communities. It triggered landslides, uprooted trees, and destroyed homes and entire communities as it quickly moved across the archipelago.
Officials fear that up to 10,000 people could be dead in the city of Tacloban alone. Reports indicate that almost 650,000 people have been displaced.
"The devastation is, I don't have the words for it," Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told reporters after landing in Tacloban. "It's really horrific. It's a great human tragedy."
Samaritan's Purse immediately deployed disaster response specialists, including water and nutrition experts, to the region. Our multinational team is coordinating relief efforts on the Leyte and the neighboring island of Samar, working with local Christians to deliver relief to those most in need. Community water filters, protective tarps, blankets, hygiene kits, and emergency family food packets are being rushed to affected areas.
"We've seen the kind of devastation storms like this can bring to lives," Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham said. "We will do everything we can to provide for their needs. We'll be there not only to provide survivors with physical aid, but also to share God's love and bring hope to their communities."Haiyan was classified as a Category 5 typhoon and is one of the most powerful storms ever to hit land. For a time, storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles-the distance between Florida and Canada-and tropical storm-force winds covered an area the size of Germany.
It forced more than 750,000 from their homes as it lashed Leyte and Samar with strong winds and 15-19-foot waves. The fast-moving storm quickly moved across the central Philippines, leaving widespread devastation in its wake.
"It was utter devastation," said Les Tilka, a church pastor partnering with Samaritan's Purse. "Especially on Bantayan Island which is already very poor. Their form of livelihood is egg production and dried fish. All the egg farms and fish processing plants were leveled, along with 90 percent of the homes."Typhoon Haiyan also hit Vietnam as a tropical storm after tens of thousands of people were evacuated. Samaritan's Purse has a country office in Vietnam and is ready to help.
Earlier this year, Samaritan's Purse worked with partners in the Philippines to offer relief during rebel fighting and after a deadly earthquake. The current typhoon hit areas that were already devastated by the earthquake. Many people in the area are still homeless and living in tents. In December of last year, we responded to a typhoon in the Philippines that caused at least 1,900 deaths and widespread destruction.
Please pray for the people affected by the storm and for our partners and staff as we respond.