On Sept 25 and 26 typhoon “Ondoy” caused flash floods that killed more than 300 people in Metro Manila. Manila is prone to floods during typhoons. But this one was massive, it tossed away cars, and flooded the homes of both rich and poor. It filled the streets of Manila with tons of garbage.
Last week, another typhoon “Pepeng” lashed out on Northern Philippines, and stayed for 8 days– the longest staying typhoon I have experienced in my entire life! It hit Northern Philippines 3 times, exiting and coming back twice. The sustained outpouring of rains lasted 8 days non stop, literally! We experienced a fourth of Noah’s flood days!
As a result, it caused massive landslides in the HECA area, burying whole villages and killing hundreds. This is the worst typhoon damage in the history of the Mountain provinces. In the past, the news of a house buried by landslide was BIG news. This calamity buried tens of houses, and claimed hundreds of lives.
Here in our town of La Trinidad, Benguet, one section of Pico called Kibungan village was wiped out by a massive landslide. About 60 homes were buried or washed down by mudflow. As of this time, 75 dead bodies were retrieved from the site. They say there could be more than 150 people still buried there. Whole families were buried. Retrieval operations are done by hand. On Saturday, 7 of us from church went and joined the retrieval work using shovels and grab hoe. We will go back tomorrow afternoon to help in the retrieval work again. We also use the time to get to know the survivors or relatives for future ministry.
Still in another section of our town, in Buyagan, another slide claimed the lives of 16. A little farther north of the same town, another 8 people were also killed by landslide in Gayasi.
In the nearby city of Baguio, they say there were 47 dead bodies retrieved as of yesterday, from different areas covered by landslides. And in Ginawang, Mankayan Benguet, and Tadian, Mt. Prov., two villages were also buried by landslides. Because we had no electricity for 5 days now, we could not watch or listen to the news. But a local newspaper reports that there are more than 300 people killed from different places of the Cordillera area, (Mountain Provinces), or HECA area.
On Saturday, as we shoveled the debris, I talked to Madrid Soriano whose house was buried. He went back to the area trying to see if there was anything he could retrieve from his wiped out house. He retrieved nothing. By the way, Madrid was lucky to have evacuated his family before the tragedy happened.
We want to help these people who lost everything. Our church regularly come together to pray, for the victims. But we are praying that after the survivors have settled somewhat perhaps two weeks from now, we will go back to minister to them. To share the gospel and to help in a small way like buying 5 bags of cement and a number of re-bars to help them rebuild. We would welcome help from brethren who would give to this need.
Due to numerous land slides, all roads to and from our area are closed. Groceries, meat, fish, vegetables and gas are not available until after 3 days they say.
As we share in the mourning of our town and region, it boggles the mind to even begin to understand it.
So like Job, I could only say to the Sovereign Lord, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.. Therefore, I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
In surrender, and humility, we may find salvation from God’s wrath.
In His Grace,