From Cathy Gordo, LWR’s Program Officer for Emergency Response in the Philippines
On Tuesday morning, Warnita Pardillo, a 47-year-old mother of three, sat with her family waiting. She had been monitoring radio broadcasts about Typhoon Bopha for days, knowing it was heading toward her town on the eastern coast of Mindanao Island in the Philippines.
The Philippines is prone to tropical storms and typhoons. They typically experience about 20 typhoons per year. However, Typhoon Bopha was unusually strong and damaging. 130 mile-per-hour wind gusts and heavy rain hit land on Tuesday morning, surpassing the highest winds of Hurricane Sandy by 20 miles per hour. It struck areas still struggling to recover from Typhoon Washi, which followed nearly the same path last December.
Warnita was surprised at how easily the strong winds were toppling coconut trees around them. “The children were frightened. I was frightened as well. I was born in this town, but have never experienced that kind of wind in my life,” she told us.
The winds grew stronger and stronger. Warnita and her husband debated whether it was safer to stay in their small wooden house or risk dodging falling trees and electric poles to seek shelter in a neighbor’s larger concrete home. “When I saw from a hole in my wall my neighbors crossing the street in search of a safer place,” she said, “I decided to grab my kids and run for the nearest safe place I could think of.” From the secure shelter at their neighbors’, Warnita and her husband watched as a coconut tree fell, destroying their home.
Across town, Bibiana Cerna and her family sought shelter in a multipurpose center recently built by LWR and Habitat for Humanity. The local chapel that used to be a storm shelter had a simple wooden roof that leaked during storms, drenching those who sought shelter. Bibiana told us that she and the other sixty families gathered in the multipurpose center were able to relax behind the safety of concrete walls. “We felt safer, and we could sleep, even if we knew that the wind was strong outside.”
LWR staff began assessing the damage of Typhoon Bopha even before the storm had fully departed to sea. In coordination with the United Nations, the ACT Alliance and Habitat for Humanity, LWR is responding to the needs of the families hit by this storm. We will develop an emergency response plan that include things like providing clean water, rebuilding families livelihoods and providing financial resources needed.
Warnita Padillo is thankful that she and her family were able to escape before their house was destroyed, but she faces challenges in the weeks ahead. Many community buildings and temporary evacuation centers were damaged in her community, and her food supply is running dangerously low. Both she and Bibiana Cerna are down to their last kilo of rice.
Bibiana received rice and a can of sardines from the local district, or barangay. But this was only enough to feed her family one meal. And since her husband relies on calmer seas for his job as a fisherman, he cannot yet return to work to earn additional income. Warnita and Bibiana need our help.
Learn more about LWR’s response at lwr.org. Your cash donations to the Philippines Floods fund help LWR respond quickly to emerging needs on the ground. LWR accepts gifts online, by phone at 800.597.5972 or by mail at:
Your gifts will be used to respond to the devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Bopha until needs there are met. Gifts received after that time will be used where needs are greatest. Thank you for your compassion. Please give generously.