Philippines (MNN) — Aid is beginning to reach some of the more than 500,000 people who are believed to be displaced by Typhoon Haiyan. It’s been a week since the 195-mile per hour winds and 15 foot storm surge battered the Central Philippines.
Today, the National Director of the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC ) Bishop Efraim Tendero tells us what he’s seeing. Speaking to MNN via Skype Tendero says the situation is unlike anything he has ever seen before.
While the winds were horrific, the 5 meter (15 feet) storm surge made it worse. “The description of the people who survived they felt like they were inside a washing machine. Being in circles. It was a very horrifying experience. For some of them is was like the end of their lives.”
The destruction has been catastrophic. “We have at least five cities where 95-percent of the whole villages were devastated. In one city there were 290 policemen assigned to that city. When they were asked to report, only 20 showed up.”
You would think there would be safety in a hotel. “There was one hotel where all the guests in the hotel also perished.”
Tendero tells MNN that there are many islands that haven’t been reached yet. One, however, has been devastated. “One island, the fear is that up to 80 percent of the people are gone — washed into the sea. So, that’s the very painful situation.”
The PCEC is helping to coordinate relief. SEND International is funneling relief aid through this group’s humanitarian wing, Philippine Relief and Development Services. The goal is to provide physical relief, which sharing Jesus at the same time.
To do that, PCEC churches outside the disaster zones are facilitating the relief efforts. They need funding and eventually will need volunteer work teams to help.
Tendero says with the help of Habitat for Humanity, they’ll be providing temporary shelter. “We’ll set up at least 500 tents which can serve as an evacuation center in one of the islands.”
He says this seems insignificant when you think the enormity of the situation. “The whole footprint of the devastation is 36 provinces. There is so much that needs to be done.”
To help PCEC go to SEND.org. All of the money will be funneled to this organization, which will ensure the most needy are helped physically, but also ministered to spiritually.