China (MNN) — The year's most powerful typhoon slammed into northwest Philippines and southern China, killing at least 33 people.
Typhoon Usagi–Japanese for "rabbit"–also forced hundreds of flight cancellations, shut down shipping and train lines, and blew cars off the road. The monster storm also the disrupted lives of 9.23 million people, damaged 152,000 hectares of crops, and demolished 15,000 houses.
On Wednesday, rescuers dug more bodies out of landslides as floodwaters receded in the Philippines, raising the death toll from days of monsoon rains worsened by Usagi.
The system battered northern Luzon last week. After its exit over the weekend, monsoon rains that were enhanced by a storm over the Pacific Ocean poured in Luzon. The rains triggered landslides that killed 20 people in areas already weakened by a powerful typhoon, raising the death toll to 47 from storms across Asia.
Compassion International spokesman Tim Glenn says they have 339 child development centers in the Philippines serving more than 66,400 children. Acknowledging that they're in the early stages of damage assessments, he says, "I don't know if we haven't heard because our people are out in the field helping kids and their families, or if it's because of a power outage, or phone lines are down. I have no idea. We've sent a couple of requests asking for updates, but we just haven't heard anything back from them yet."
The problems were compounded in some areas of Manila. Monsoon rains flooded parts of the city in August. Glenn explains, "Throughout parts of Manila, the flooding has been so bad this year. We had a crew that was in Manila just a few weeks ago, and they got there just as the flood waters were starting to recede, but it was as much as nine feet deep in some villages."
For many families, getting flooded out two or three times a year is expected. One family the team visited showed their method of coping with the mess. "They only own plastic furniture, and their plastic furniture is hung from the ceiling. They have hooks and everything for their chairs, their tables–every piece of furniture they have. They hang it on the ceiling when they know the rains start coming and they know the floods are coming, so they can protect their furniture, what little they have, from the debris and from the floodwaters."
But who can prepare for the extraordinary trouble nine feet of mud brings? Glenn says a lot of people ask why these families stay in the flood-prone spaces. It's not really their choice. "They're impoverished. They live where they can live. So, knowing that they're going to face this every year, we have a disaster relief fund; we have a disaster relief program that we can put into action to help these families."
Feeling protected and secure is important to every child's development. A safe place to sleep, clean water, enough to eat, and medical care help children grow into mature, healthy young adults. Disasters like these can shatter that sense of safety. Restoring a sense of normalcy goes a long way. Glenn says that's why Compassion has a Disaster Relief and Stability fund. "We provide personal items, cooking utensils, we provide trauma counseling, and of course, spiritual support as well. We replace clothing that's lost, school supplies, and household items. All those are things that we have ready to go in our disaster relief fund."
Sometimes emergency shelter happens at the local church which also houses a Child Development Center. It's those opportunities that allow the believers an opportunity to live the Gospel. "We believe that the Church–when she provides this kind of relief and she does it in the name of Christ and the name of Jesus–[is] doing exactly what the Church is called to do. We're empowering the church to be that place of release, relief, shelter, and care to the poor and to the hurting."
Please pray for the staff in the days ahead. Safety and health are top concerns in post-flood zones with standing water. Pray that they would have strength to help the families most affected by the storm. Resources will also be helpful. Click here for ways you can help.