Typhoon Koppu drenches Philippines; church leaders request prayer
Philippines, Asia-Pacific Region
Days after Typhoon Koppu hit the northern Philippines, families within the Church of the Nazarene and beyond are still facing the devastation of both their homes and livelihoods from the weather and flooding.
Typhoon Lando, as it is called locally, hit the central and northern areas of the island of Luzon October 18, dumping more than five inches of rain per hour and causing catastrophic flooding within the storm’s 600 plus-kilometer radius (373 miles).
As of October 21, the typhoon had killed at least 47 people and displaced thousands of people across several provinces, including two Nazarene districts: the Philippine Luzon District and the Metropolitan Luzon District.
“Churches became the refuge of displaced families,” said Stephen Gualberto, field strategy coordinator in the Philippines and Micronesia.
Pastor Cryz Colorado Jr. of the Cabanatuan Church of the Nazarene reported floods affected 17 families from his congregation.
“All of the rivers and creeks in Cabanatuan City overflowed and flooded most of the barangays,” he said. “Since Saturday night (October 17) we have been receiving text messages from our members that their houses were already under water.”
Other parts of the mountainous area, such as Barangay Aduas and Kaingin, are not yet reachable due to flooding in the roads.
“We heard that the families are OK,” Colorado said. “But many of them lost valuable things because flood came so fast.”
In the Camias area, crops were destroyed by the typhoon’s winds, with rice fields flood and trees uprooted. Many families there depend on those crops for their livelihood. Cars couldn’t pass on the roads, and at least 14 houses need major repairs. Seven were completed destroyed, including one location built to house people and to act as a Sunday school classroom for children.
One woman reported that she and her husband were not able to save anything other than themselves.
“Everything in their house is destroyed by the flood,” Colorado said.
At the time of initial landfall, wind speeds created by the typhoon were close to 124 miles per hour, according to BBC News. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that millions of people live in the path of the typhoon. Because the storm is slow-moving, heavy rain is likely to last multiple days.
One report estimates that 291,000 people have been affected, and 70,000 people are in evacuation centers. More than 1,700 homes were reported damaged, with 10 percent destroyed. The cost of the damage to the agriculture in the area — the main livelihood of many — is estimated to be $4 million.
“Initial disaster relief is currently underway through the initiative of local churches, districts, and the field office,” Gualberto said.
The Church of the Nazarene in the Philippines was able to respond immediately, thanks to donations that had been given previously through the Asia-Pacific Disaster Relief fund. The fund is designed as a disaster preparedness resource that equips the church to respond quickly and effectively in the disaster-prone Asia-Pacific Region.
This is the 12th storm to hit the Philippines this year.
As local Nazarene congregations in the Philippines work to respond to the needs in their communities following Typhoon Koppu, church leaders are asking for prayer support.
“Please join us as we pray for the affected communities and families that they may find strength in the Lord at this time of hardship,” Gualberto said. “We shall continue to keep you posted as new information comes in. Thank you for your partnership and prayers.”