A Report from the YMCA of Philippines

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Last Updated (Sunday, 28 September 2014 16:01)

Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, the strongest typhoon that hit the country last Friday and Saturday, unleashed ferocious winds and giant waves that brought massive destruction and leveled villages as it crossed several provinces in the Visayas region particularly the provinces of Leyte,Samar, Iloilo, Capiz, Antique and the Northern part of Palawan.

The aftermath of the typhoon as reported by the media provided us a chilling scenario where people wept while retrieving the bodies of love ones from inside buildings. On a street littered with fallen trees, toppled electric posts, roofing materials and other wreckage, all that was left of the large buildings were the skeletal remains of its rafters. Corpses hung from tree branches and were scattered along sidewalks and among flattened buildings. In Tacloban City, the airport which is the only immediate channel of posible support was a muddy wasteland of debry, with crampled tin roofs and overturned cars. The residential homes lining the roads into Tacloban City were all blowned and washed-away.

According to the reports provided by the provincial disaster reduction management, the Philippine Military and the National Media Center, the estimated casualty in the province of Leyte is 10,000 of which 5,000 are from Tacloban. The officials projected that the death toll could climb even higher when emergency crews reach areas cut-off by flooding and landslides. Most of the deaths were caused by drowning due to storm surges, when water driven by strong winds rose from the sea and rushed in torrent ashore, washing away everything on their path.

Meanwhile, the number of affected families has reached 2 Million or 9.53 Million individuals in eight regions by mid Sunday based on the latest count by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The number of displaced families reached to 96,039 or 449, 416 individuals staying in evacuation centers, while 36, 627 families or 182, 378 persons temporarily sought shelter in their relatives¹ in other regions near the area.

Power and communication lines are still down in the area and it would likely take a month to restore power lines in the centers while severalmonths in the remote areas of the region.

Given the urgency of the situation, the survivors need immediate assistance for basic necessities like food, water, clothing, blankets, medicine, temporary shelters and other relief assistance.

I am attaching here a news clipping for you to imagine the extent of the impact of the disaster. This is only in Tacloban City. There are other cities that suffered the same where local YMCAs in the Visayas region can reach out but due to communication break down we have yet accounts on the situation on the areas.

"1,200 feared dead in typhoon-devastated Philippines

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines - One of the most powerful typhoons in history is believed to have killed 1,200 people in the Philippines, the Red Cross said Saturday, as rescue workers raced to reach towns devastated by tsunami-like waves.

A day after Supertyphoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) whipped across the central Philippines with maximum sustained winds of around 315 kilometers an hour, a picture emerged of entire communities having been flattened.

Authorities said that, aside from the ferocious winds, storm surges of up to 10 feet high that swept into coastal towns and deep inland were responsible for destroying countless homes.

Imagine a strip one kilometre deep inland from the shore, and all the shanties, everything, destroyed, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said after visiting coastal towns in Leyte, one of the worst-hit provinces in the east of the archipelago.

They were just like matchsticks flung inland. All the houses were destroyed. The official government death toll on Saturday night was 138.

But with rescue workers yet to reach or communicate with many ravaged communities across a 600-kilometer stretch of islands, authorities said they were unable to give a proper assessment of how many people had been killed. Philippine Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang said her organization estimated 1,200 people had died, while a UN official who visited Leyte described apocalyptic scenes.

This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris, said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, the head of a UN disaster assessment coordination team.

The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, he said, referring to the 2004 disaster that claimed about 220,000 lives.

Stampa made his comments after arriving in Tacloban City, the destroyed capital of Leyte with a population of about 220,000 people.

More than 100 bodies were littered in and around Tacloban's airport, according to the facility's manager.

AFP journalists who arrived in Tacloban on a military aircraft encountered dazed survivors wandering amid the carnage asking for water, while others sorted through what was left of their destroyed homes.

One resident, Dominador Gullena, cried as he recounted to AFP his escape but the loss of his neighbours.

My family evacuated the house. I thought our neighbours also did the same, but they didn't, Gullena said. Eight bodies had been laid to rest inside Tacloban airport¹s chapel, which had also been badly damaged, according to an AFP photographer.

One woman knelt on the flood-soaked floor of the church while holding the hand of a dead boy, who had been placed on a wooden pew.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla reached the fishing town of Palo, about 10 kilometres from Tacloban, by helicopter and said he believed hundreds of people had died just in that area.

Pope Francis tweeted his support for the typhoon victims: "I ask all of you to join me in prayer for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda especially those in the beloved islands of the Philippines."

Race to reach decimated communities. Meanwhile, the military, government relief workers and non-government organisations battled to reach communities and deliver desperately needed supplies.

Fifteen thousand soldiers were in the disaster zones and helping in the rescue effort, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP.

Zagala said helicopters were flying rescuers into priority areas, while infantry units deployed across the affected areas were also proceeding on foot or in military trucks.

Haiyan's wind strength, which remained close to 300 kilometres an hour throughout Friday, made it the strongest typhoon in the world this year and one of the most intense ever recorded. It exited into the South China Sea on Saturday and tracked towards Vietnam, where more than 200,000 people crammed into storm shelters.

Philippine authorities had expressed confidence on Friday that only a few people had been killed, citing two days of intense preparation efforts led by President Benigno Aquino.

Nearly 800,000 people in danger zones had been moved to evacuation centres, while thousands of boats across the archipelago were ordered to remain secured at ports. Hundreds of flights were also cancelled.

Aquino said on Saturday night it appeared some communities had not heeded the warnings.

"I hesitate to say this, but it seems that Tacloban was not that prepared, shall we say, compared with other areas," he told reporters in Manila.

An average of 20 major storms or typhoons, many of them deadly, batter the Philippines each year as they emerge from the Pacific Ocean.

The Philippines suffered the world¹s strongest storm of 2012, when

Typhoon Bopha left about 2,000 people dead or missing on the southern island of Mindanao.

Haiyan is expected to make landfall in central Vietnam early Sunday, with millions of people thought to be in its path. Authorities have begun mass evacuations in at least four central coastal provinces, Vietnam¹s state-run VNExpress news site said, as the country was put on high alert.

The YMCA of the Philippines is coordinating with local YMCAs and members in raising funds for relief and to work with agencies directly involve in the mitigation in Tacloban City like the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The support of our YMCA friends save the lives of those who survive the calamity and extend them for the reconstruction of their families and communities shall be of great value. May we appeal for dissemination of this information.

Thank you and we look forward to your positive response and please help us continue pray for the healing of our broken people.

Warmest regards,


National General Secretary

YMCA of the Philippines

2F Hotel Indah Manila

350 AJ Villegas St., Ermita Manila

T/F Nos. (02) 528-0557/(02)484-1288

Mobile: +63-927-7117-011

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