While the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. still struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, with many communities still cut off from flooding due to rivers that are only now beginning to crest, Typhoon Mangkhut -- known as Ompong in the Philippines -- made landfall on the northern tip of Luzon on Friday night local time and has decimated much of the Philippines with winds of over 125 mph. Rev. Melzar Labuntog, General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, reports that there are upwards of 2500 church families who are in need of food due to their homes and livelihoods being destroyed. Forty-nine of the Church’s communities need seeds to replant gardens and farms that were washed away. Many people were buried alive in landslides in the areas of Baguio City, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya and Itugon, and Benguet; 41 bodies have been retrieved with more expected to be.
Other news reports note that at least 70 people have died, including 50 people who had taken shelter in a chapel in Itogon. Another 50+ are still missing as of this writing. Accuweather reports that debris was hurtled through the air as the powerful typhoon crossed the northern Philippines, with roofs being ripped off of homes, businesses and many trees and power lines downed. “Almost all of the buildings here have been damaged, the roofs were blown away,” said Rogelio Sending, a government official in Tuguegarao. “There has been no electricity supply ... communications were also down."
Adelfa Lunato and her family arrived back at their tiny fishing village in the coastal Cagayan province. The modest house that she shared with her parents and grandmother was in pieces. The walls had crumbled and only the thin wooden frame remained. As she told CNN, "It was so devastating to see that our house was destroyed," said Adelfa. "We were all crying. Seeing this damage for the first time, it was like losing our will to live."
Through Global Ministries, our partner the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, has requested our help in channeling monetary aid, medical supplies, food, and monies to assist families who have been directly affected by this severe storm. Week of Compassion will continue to work with our partners in the days and months ahead to help communities impacted by this devastating typhoon to rebuild. We seek your prayers for those who are grieving, for those are caring for their neighbors, and for the restoration of these communities. Your continued gifts to Week of Compassion will, through the work of our partners, bring help where it is needed. Thank you.
Hurricane Florence Update:
As Florence tracks north away from the Carolinas, the effects of the intense rainfall continue to develop, especially in central and southeastern North Carolina. Rivers across much of the state have been overwhelmed, with some expected to crest today, while others are predicted to continue rising through the week.
Week of Compassion is in regular contact with the Regional staff and ecumenical partners in the area. We are slowly receiving reports from congregations, though many places are still under evacuation orders and road closures further limit access.
As of this morning, we have received reports of confirmed damage at First Christian Church, Wilmington and Armenia Christian Church in Kinston and likely damage at Southwest Christian Church in Kinston. We anticipate receiving additional reports through the week. Camp Caroline also sustained damage, including leaks and minor flooding in multiple buildings. Camp Director Casey Perry wrote in an update yesterday: “Camp Caroline came out on the other side! We do have quite a few downed trees and power lines around camp. Due to the current condition of camp and our concern for your safety, we have closed camp until October 1.” To read his full update, including ways to help, visit the Camp Caroline Facebook page.
Disciples across the state have also been responding to the needs of their communities. In addition to checking on the safety of their members and neighbors, several congregations are active in the relief efforts, including:
Christmount Conference Center continues to host evacuees.
Southwood Memorial Christian Church in Kinston is feeding several dozen first responders breakfast and dinner daily.
Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro has been distributing food and water.
First Christian Church, Plymouth and First Christian Church, Wilson are hosting blood drives.
First Christian Church, Greenville has been helping members and neighbors clear trees and other storm debris.
Multiple congregations are in conversation with our ecumenical partners and other organizations to host volunteers for cleanup.