Written by Connie Larkman
As the most powerful storm ever to make landfall battered the Philippines early Friday morning, United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries immediately reached out to partners in the country to offer assistance.
"Because we are part of a worldwide fellowship, we know our partners in the Philippines and Asia are already at work responding to meet the needs of survivors," said Susan Sanders, minister for the UCC's Global Sharing of Resources. "Gifts given previously to One Great Hour of Sharing enable the UCC to send financial resources immediately to accompany our prayers."
Typhoon Haiyan, a category-5 super typhoon, roared ashore at the northern tip of Cebu Province, a popular tourist spot with the Philippines second-largest city, Cebu, home to around 2.5 million people.
More than 1 million people fled in search of safety ahead of the storm, which caused mudslides, flash flooding and a storm surge with waves of up to 30 feet. The typhoon's winds approached 200 mph on the morning of Nov. 8, cutting power and phone lines, grounding air and sea transport and blocking roads. Typhoons and cyclones of that magnitude can blow apart storm-proof shelters due to the huge pressure they create, which can suck walls out and blow roofs off buildings. Authorities in the Philippines earlier warned that 12 million people were at risk.
Those evacuated are taking shelter in churches and other areas in more than 20 provinces. Several churches of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines are serving as shelters.
"Prevention is better than dealing with the offshoot of a disaster," said the Rev. Goel Bagundol of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the largest and most widespread Protestant church in the country.
At least four people were killed according to the Associated Press. But with the country's lines of communication cut, government leaders feared the toll could rise dramatically.
Today the denomination, through Global Ministries, reached out to partners in the region offering prayers and financial support: $10,000 has been sent to help fund the response of the ACT Alliance and another $5,000 grant has been wired to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines to support the relief effort.
Given the anticipated intensity and the possible impact of the typhoon, the ACT Alliance is planning to provide drinking water, sleeping materials, hygiene kits and medicines. Gifts to assist this response can be made to the UCC International Disaster Relief Fund.
The region was already struggling to recover from a powerful earthquake in October 2013.
By Friday afternoon, the current storm system was heading towards Vietnam and Laos. Meteorologists in Vietnam said it could be the country's strongest storm ever.