Caritas Philippines looks into extent of damage of super typhoon

Head of the social action arm of the Catholic Church calls for further assistance and prayers
San Pablo, Isabela province, north of Manila on October 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Typhoon Haima damaged this house in San Pablo town, Isabela province, north of Manila on October 20, 2016 | AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Church, is looking into the extent of the damage brought about by Super Typhoon Haima, which continues to batter parts of the country on Oct. 20.

“We are trying to determine where help is most needed and what type of relief are we going to give to affected communities,” said Father Edwin Gariguez, head of Caritas Philippines.

The priest said the church’s social action teams were already deployed to areas hit by the typhoon. “We are using drones to see the whole area,” he told ucanews.com.

Father Gariguez appealed to the public to continue sending in donations especially in areas most affected by the super typhoon.

“We need medicines, food, clothing, equipment, and even prayers,” said the priest. “We need all those,” he said.

The social action arm of the country’s Catholic bishops has earlier “prepositioned” relief goods in areas where Super Typhoon Haima was expected to hit.

Father Gariguez expressed confidence that parishes and dioceses in affected areas will be able to respond to the need of the people.

“We have done a lot already in terms of disaster preparedness and response,” said Father Gariguez, adding that they have learned a lot from Super Typhoon Haiyan that hit the central Philippines in 2013.

Typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 6,000 people, was the world’s strongest recorded cyclone.

 Northern provinces hit

At least seven people were reported killed at the height of the onslaught of Typhoon Haima in the northern part of the country.

As of late in the afternoon of Oct. 20, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council was still awaiting reports from the provinces on the extent of the damage caused by the typhoon.

Romina Marasigan, the council’s spokeswoman, said severe infrastructural damage and disruption of power and communication supplies were reported in at least two provinces.

“Many infrastructures were damaged due to the strong winds … roofs were blown away,” she said, adding that even the roof of the headquarters of the Office of Civil Defense in the province of Cagayan Valley was damaged.

“It’s a challenge for our regional offices to send reports,” said Marasigan. “Many electric posts and trees have fallen,” she added.

In its initial report, the agency has accounted for some 90,589 people who were evacuated from their homes before the typhoon, which brought sustained winds of up to 225km/h, made landfall on Oct. 19.

The Philippines endures around 20 major storms every year, many of them deadly.

Joe Torres, Manila 
Philippines

October 20, 2016

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