Philippines (MNN/BGR) — The storm that hit the Philippines was aptly named. Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response says in Tagalog, “The word ‘hagupit’ is a local word meaning ‘to lash’ or ‘to flail.’ So, it kind of gives that ominous ‘you’re going to get punished’ feeling.” Typhoon Hagupit did indeed lash the Philippines in the same place where Haiyan struck last year.
However, the storm downgraded from the Super Typhoon it threatened to be by the time it made landfall. “The Filipino government did what they were supposed to do. They moved people out from the areas, the shores; they got them to higher and safer areas, and more secure buildings, and did a really good job.” Palmer says that was an answer to prayer. That’s the good news. Here’s the not-so-good news: in spite of the fact that lives were spared, families in the Philippines are reeling today. “You had a lot of wind damage this time, [and] you had a lot of flooding to go with it. But because of the preparation and because the storm lost intensity, we had a lot less loss of life and injury.”
Catanduanes province declared a state of calamity. Power and communications have been knocked out. Roads have been blocked with debris. The hardest-hit area so far is just north of Tacloban where Baptists have a training center in a jungle area.
Keep in mind, recovery from Typhoon Haiyan was ongoing. “People are still in temporary shelters from last year. They’re in these barracks and things like that. We know there’s a lot of damage in those because they were not substantial structures, so we’ll be working with some of that.”
Initial assessments have already been completed, adds Palmer. “Our teams, like everybody else, are still on the ground there because we’re still responding to last year’s typhoon. So they got to safe places, and then they got out and did an assessment. And now we’ve just released a project this [Monday] morning through our Filipino partners and through our American partners.”
Pat Melancon, BGR’s managing director of disaster response and training, explains that three national “rapid assessment” teams identified areas of need, particularly in locations that may not be reached by large-scaled relief efforts.
Palmer says right now, “It’s sort of like you have this terrible trauma in your family, and you’re just starting to recover: and then another one hits. That’s where a lot of people are.”
Believers are sharing and ministering. They have learned that by meeting needs, they can also meet spiritual ones as well. “Pray for our workers that are there, that they may be the salt and the light of Christ as they go about helping with this second disaster. Pray that we can really get to folks in need; also pray that we can be bold in sharing our faith and the hope that we find in Jesus Christ.”
You can help BGR respond to disasters by donating to BGR’s Disaster Response Fund at gobgr.org/donate. Donate $10 by texting BGR to 80888.*