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Tropical storm Sendong hits Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, in southern Philippines

Submitted by: regina
On: 21/12/2011

Church personnel, government and  non-government organizations are putting their material resources and human power together to help the victims of Typhoon Sendong  (international code name “Washi”) which slammed Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City in Southern Philippines in the early morning of December 16, causing flashfloods, killing hundreds of people and destroying homes and properties.

Photo: Map of the Philippines with Good Shepherd communities

The national newspapers reported  that Philippine National Red Cross placed the death toll at 700 and about  900 people were listed as missing.

Because of the number of deaths, the health officials recommended mass burials although one agency said it is important  that the bodies be identified, for the families to mourn before burying their loved ones. Local officials recommended mass  graves because of health risks from  rotting cadavers. Funeral homes admitted they could not cope with the volume of the dead in the region. Those helping are  trying to find, retrieve and bury  the dead.

Good Shepherd Sisters in Cagayan d e Oro City  and Iligan City in Northern Mindanao were among the Church people who have been responding to the victims.

Photo: Map of Mindanao, in yellow, with Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, north.

Sr. Edna Fuentes, local leader of Iligan, said she and another  sister , Sr. Francia Blando, are coordinating efforts with the diocese to help the victims.

Churchworkers of the Diocese of Iligan are helping some  700 families in the 10 evacuation centers in the city and some 600 families who are in their homes, or what was left after the disaster.

Sr. Edna said the relief workers had a meeting with Bishop Elenito Galido about the coordination of relief work in the diocese and to network with the government  units. The San Lorenzo parish is among the evacuation centers used by typhoon victims.  Sr. Edna said many of the survivors are relocated in public school buildings, and noted that many of the children are also getting sick. While the supply of food continue to come, there is lack of clean drinking water for the evacuees.  Electric power was also cut off in Northern Mindanao.

The apartment where the sisters live was not damaged by the storm and the water  at the height of the storm was only knee-deep.  Sr. Myrna Tacardon, another sister living in Abono, Iligan  that lies between a mountain and a river, is  also safe.  The Sisters continue to serve those who have lost members of their families, their homes and properties. Sr. Edna said what worsened the situation was that logs from the mountains were the ones that rammed people and their homes. Mountains in Mindanao, one of the three major islands in the country, is a rich source of logs and timber. There are many cases of illegal logging.

Photo: Taken from PDI online

In Cagayan de Oro City, Sr. Regina Pil, local leader, reported that the Good Shepherd Sisters are all safe and are attending to the victims and their families. The convent was not in the path of the raging waters during the storm. She is saddened that the poor people who live near the coasts were the ones who have suffered much and are now in evacuation centers. Flashfloods swept away their houses made of light materials.

Sr. Leah Ann Espina, Justice and Peace link person of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Cagayan de Oro, said Sr. Carmelita Arenas is among the church personnel responding the archdiocesan call to attend to the needs of the victims. Members of families of several of the girls in the residence were among the casualties of the typhoon.

Sr. Lorraine Libres, a second year novice, received communication from her family on Sunday that the family was affected by the typhoon and their house was among those submerged in water. The  family was saved because her father woke  in the wee hours of the morning and  noticed that water was already at their doorstep. He was quick enough to wake his family from sleep. They all  managed to go to the rooftop.

Sr. Cecilia Torres RGS, province leader, who was at the Provincialate in Quezon City contacted on December 16 the sisters in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro and  asked Sr.  Amelia David to immediately  send  financial help to Northern Mindanao. Sisters have also offered to help survivors through stress-debriefing. Those in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan have not had destructive typhoons in the past and they were unprepared for this calamity.

Sr. Regina Pil is grateful for the prayers and financial contributions. She said that while donations are coming in for relief operations, the Church in Mindanao is also preparing for the long-term program to help the surviving victims of the calamity and to help in the difficult task of rebuilding.


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Photos from Iligan - Sent by Sr. Francia Blando