Typhoon Haiyan, One Year Later
Samaritan's Purse continues to work in the Philippines a year after the deadly storm.
Click here to learn how Samaritan's Purse is responding to Typhoon Hagupit.
On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan pounded the Philippines. Heavy rains, waves that rose as high as six meters, and winds more than 300 kilometers per hour made Haiyan the strongest storm to reach landfall in recorded history. The typhoon killed nearly 6,000 people, displaced more than 4.2 million, and damaged or destroyed 1.1 million homes. In total, the disaster affected more than 13 million people.
Help on the Way
Samaritan’s Purse immediately launched a relief effort, chartering a jumbo jet to airlift 100 tons of emergency supplies to the Philippines. Our disaster response team arrived the next day, and resources and responders were quickly mobilized from our offices in Canada, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to form a team of 149 experts focused on emergency relief.
Meeting Immediate Needs
Samaritan’s Purse organized an administration and logistics base in Cebu City and conducted forward operations through two bases in the hardest-hit locations.
The primary needs in the aftermath of Haiyan fell into four key sectors: WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), shelter and non-food items, health/medical, and food security/nutrition.
Unable to sleep, Ken Isaacs, vice president of international projects and government relations, wrote a blog from his room in the Philippines:
Much Work To Be Done
November 24, 2013 • Philippines
The rain is falling so hard that the sound of the panging on the sheet metal roofing makes sleep impossible. I hear the movement of others on the floor and around the corner and I know I am not the only one who has woken up.
Water is falling from the trusses and cascading from the floor above into the floor we are on. We are lucky, though. Our place is relatively dry. My heart breaks for the 4 million who have lost their homes and have only a scrap of tin and sticks by which to fashion a shelter of some sort.
I have seen hundreds of thousands of them in the last three days.
Typhoon Haiyan is like nothing I have ever seen. Along the coast it show signs of destruction that I can only compare to the tsunami in Japan three years ago. From the snapped trees and war zone-like destruction it reminds me of what I saw in Mississippi and Alabama a few years ago. From the sheer path of the storm it reminds me of Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992.
I have never seen a storm that destroyed so much, so totally, and in such an unbelievably wide swath as Haiyan has done. News reports say it has left more homeless than Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami combined.
I believe that after doing aerial recon for two days, watching for the roads to be opened. From above I saw the thousands of square miles of destruction. Forests are leveled. Villages are erased. Debris-strewn areas are all that remain of what used to be neighborhoods, fishing towns, and commercial centers.
There are more people homeless than I’ve ever seen from a natural disaster. That’s saying a lot for me. I have been responding to disasters for 25 years so I have seen more than I frankly want to remember.
It’s been a little over two weeks since the storm exploded like a 200-mile wide freight train moving across the country and leaving little but miraculous tales of survival by clinging to ceiling joists or a block wall. There are also too many stories of the last time a loved one was seen and not heard from again. By now, no one is expecting to find happy endings.
Today I drove into eight communities that line the ridge of the mountains on the north/south axis of Leyte, the province island where Tacloban sits. People asked me for nails, hammers, plastic tarps, doctors, food, water, and prayer. Not in that order in every village, but those items in every village.
When I came back to the coast I drove through Talosa and Tanauan. Ground zero. People are working to put shelter over their heads by salvaging bits and pieces from rubble. Signs everywhere are asking for help. Food and water, mostly.
Not all of the areas have everything they need. The media is gone, but the need remains. Getting to this eastern side of the Philippines isn’t easy and there are less relief agencies here than I expected.
The Samaritan crossed the road to help the man in the ditch. He washed the wounds, bandaged them, took the man to an inn and took care of him. He didn’t ask him what he believed, who he voted for, or who he was related to. He crossed the road and gave help. Then and there.
That’s what we do at Samaritan’s Purse. I love being a part of that. In the midst of crisis I am blessed to be a small part of Jesus’ hands and feet. I am blessed to minister to others in the name of Jesus Christ and I know God will use that for His Glory in ways I can never imagine.
The rain has stopped to a steady drip now inside the walls and on the floors of the hotel where our team of 50 are sleeping tonight. This hotel’s roof is also gone. There is no water, no electricity, no windows, and now wet floors. But at least I am dry on the bed and I have something to lay on other than the wet ground.
I am grateful to God to be here. I’m grateful to God for the people who give and pray for Samaritan’s Purse so we can be here.
It’s 4:30 now. Maybe I can sleep another hour before the team’s day starts.
There is so much to do.
The WASH intervention addressed two components: provision of potable water and hygiene promotion.
Samaritan’s Purse improved access to clean water by installing 18 community water systems and distributing more than 4,600 household filters, 25,000 containers, and 500,000 purification tablets.
The team also distributed over 26,000 hygiene kits and educated more than 50,000 people about safe sanitation practices.
Samaritan’s Purse supplied shelter kits for over 10,000 families and shelter plastic to help more than 17,000 households.
The teams distributed non-food items, including more than 7,700 blankets, 1,000 weather radios, 3,700 mosquito nets, and 1,000 Bibles. We also provided more than 8,600 cook kits, each equipped with pots, plates, flatware, and buckets for carrying and storing water so that families could prepare meals despite the devastation.
Numerous residents were injured or fell victim to pneumonia or acute diarrhea in the days after the typhoon. The Schistosomiasis Control and Research Center in Palo, Leyte, sustained severe damage during the storm and welcomed Samaritan’s Purse to set up a 30-bed field hospital on its grounds.
Working alongside local medical personnel, Samaritan’s Purse physicians treated more than 3,000 patients at the hospital and more than 2,000 at mobile clinics in remote areas. Team members provided vaccinations against polio and measles and screened nearly 1,200 children for malnutrition.
Haiyan left many people with little to no access to food. During the early phases of the response, Samaritan’s Purse distributed more than 30,000 food kits, each of which could feed a family of five for up to three days.
Food for Typhoon Survivors
Throughout Tacloban, there are dozens of signs asking for help. People are in dire need.
“When I first drove through here, people were standing next to the road with their arms stretched out,” said Ayouba Hassan, a Samaritan’s Purse team member doing food distributions in the Philippines. “They were asking for food, water, and shelter. It broke my heart.”
One woman who needed help was Analiza Mendoza. She described the typhoon winds like a tornado. The ocean, which is typically more than two kilometers from her home, rose all the way to her neck.
“I wanted to climb onto the roof, but the wind was too strong,” she said. “After three or four hours, things calmed down and I slowly came out. When I did, there were dead bodies all over the place.”
Mendoza thought the worst was over, but her troubles continued. It took responders days to get relief goods to the affected areas. Roads were covered in debris. After a few days, Mendoza began thinking she would die of starvation, but her husband comforted her.
“If we made it through the storm, we’ll make it through this,” he said. “Food is on the way.”
Samaritan’s Purse is one group working to meet the needs of survivors like Mendoza. We are partnering with the World Food Programme to distribute 1,000 metric tons of rice to 17,000 families on Leyte and Banatayan Islands. The team has begun distribution and is eager to get the food out. Every family who comes to our distributions will receive two rations, each one sufficient to sustain them for two weeks.
After the typhoon, local markets collapsed, making it impossible for the population to satisfy its basic needs. While the local government is working tirelessly to reestablish order, it will take some time before the situation is stabilized. In the meantime, people are in critical need of aid.
“It is great to be a part of this response,” Hassan said. “People are so grateful when they receive the ration. Many have been without food for days. Others have received food in small quantities but not enough to carry them through the week. When families receive the food, it truly makes their day.”
Mendoza came to our distribution to collect food for herself, her husband, and their four young children.
“I would wait all day to get this rice if I had to,” Mendoza said after collecting her rice. “It is very important. Thank you for bringing this food.”
We partnered with the World Food Programme to distribute an additional 1,690 metric tons of rice to 168,000 people across four provinces on Leyte Island. This partnership also allowed us to provide 20 metric tons of high-energy biscuits for students at 49 schools on Bantayan Island.
Samaritan’s Purse worked with long-time national partners and their extensive network of churches. Hundreds of volunteers from local congregations packed food and hygiene kits to meet the urgent physical needs of victims.
Many volunteers who helped assemble food kits were also victims of the storm, but they were more concerned about helping others.
“Our team has remained encouraged knowing that God will accomplish His purpose here—a wise and sovereign and merciful purpose—and we are part of that,” Aaron Ashoff, disaster response team leader, said. “We have been fortunate to find so many compassionate Filipinos here helping their neighbors.”
Gifts for Children
In December, Samaritan’s Purse airlifted approximately 60,000 of our Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts from the United States to the Philippines, where staff and volunteers distributed them to children on the hard-hit islands of Leyte and Bantayan. Many of the gift boxes were packed by Hurricane Sandy survivors, who identified with experiencing a fierce storm that claims homes and lives—and who understood hope is something that needs to be held onto tightly in the aftermath of disaster.
Christmas Comes to the Philippines
December 17, 2013 • Philippines
Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes packed by Hurricane Sandy victims are delivered into the hands of boys and girls who survived Typhoon Haiyan
Christmas in the Philippines is a national celebration that begins in September and lasts through February. In homes and business districts all over the country, ornate decorations, lights, and signs of the season dance in windows and spring from rooftops.
But on the small island of Bantayan, where upwards of 300 kilometer per hour winds of Typhoon Haiyan ripped through communities without discrimination, what Christmas decorations remain hang dark and lifeless since most of the island has no electricity. Many of the roofs and houses they once adorned have been peeled away from their foundations and littered in twisted heaps across the neighborhoods.
And yet there are signs of hope in the form of shoeboxes. Some 65,000 Operation Christmas Child gifts with toys, candy, and the hope of Jesus Christ—each one individually filled by loving hands—have arrived in the storm-weary island nation.
In November, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham announced a special collection of shoeboxes for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. He wanted the joy of these simple gifts to help overcome the devastation of this horrific disaster, even for just a moment.
“Children in the Philippines are going to get these gifts and know that God loves them, ” Graham said. “They are going to know that they haven’t been forgotten. These boxes will be a little ray of hope.”
In total about 60,000 shoeboxes, with around 5,000 more sent from Canada, were packed and collected in just weeks.
The gift-filled shoeboxes were loaded onto a Boeing 747 at JFK Airport in New York on December 12. The cargo jet carrying the precious cargo touched down at Macta-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines at 2:05 a.m. local time on December 14.
In less than two hours, 65,000 shoeboxes were off-loaded and sent to a warehouse where local volunteers and staff helped sort them for delivery to churches across the country.
Filled With Joy
More than 100 of shoebox gifts arrived at Jesus Christ the Redeemer Church in Santa Fe, Bantayan on Monday.
Children and their parents waited eagerly to receive a special gift under a canopy of blue Samaritan’s Purse tarp—a reminder that their building still lies in ruins.
The church stood directly in the line of Typhoon Haiyan and fought for hours against constant wind and a deluge of rain. Eventually the walls and roof submitted to one of the strongest storms on record, which also completely obliterated the attached parsonage. All that remained were eight concrete pillars.
Ruth Echaves was there.
“The wind was so strong, everything was shaking. I watched as the roof was thrown over there,” she said, nodding to a pile of chewed up metal and wood.
She couldn’t point out the remains because in her arms Ruth held a squirmy little boy, her 5-year-old nephew, Fergus.
“This is such a blessing to us,” she said as Fergus coiled around her. “Two of my other children also received shoeboxes and they learned about Jesus.”
For Fergus, this would be his very first Christmas present, a small blessing for a boy with significant health issues.
“He can’t walk,” Ruth said. “He spends most of his day in a cradle. He has a cleft palate and a hole in his heart.”
When asked if Fergus would need surgery, Ruth was heartbreakingly honest.
“We can’t afford it,” she said. “But this here, this is filling his heart with joy.”
Fergus was so excited about his gift that he could not stop himself from smiling, clapping, and wriggling in his aunt’s arms.
Finally, his moment came—Fergus was handed a gift-filled shoebox. With tears in her eyes Ruth said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so happy. His mother will be so happy.”
After Fergus received his shoebox, Ruth carefully helped her young nephew open it to survey its contents. Stuffed inside were candy, a plush snake, markers, and crayons. He also received a booklet that talked about the greatest gift of all—the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Fergus could not verbalize his excitement, but the expression on his face said everything: Great joy has arrived to the Philippines just in time for Christmas.
“Thank you for this,” Ruth said. “It means so much to us knowing that people on the other side of the world really do care.”
Road to Recovery
Throughout 2014, our work has transitioned to from emergency relief to recovery projects.
This year we have distributed more than 16,000 shelter kits, including local lumber cut from storm-damaged trees, nails, tarp, and corrugated galvanized iron. Jobs to move and load the wood for the shelters are created through our cash-for-work program.
Before receiving the materials, beneficiaries attend training sessions where engineers teach building techniques to make their houses stronger and more prepared to stand up to future storms.
Encouraging Healthy Families
Our nutrition program offers health education for parents and conducts nutrition monitoring for infants and young children. We have screened over 100,000 children under 5 years old for malnutrition and provided supplemental food for those who needed it. More than 19,000 pregnant and lactating women have also been screened.
Promoting Hygiene and Sanitation
The WASH program is providing 10,000 household latrines to families in the same communities that received shelter kits. A competitive local market has emerged from training contractors to build the septic tanks. In September, the highest production week yet saw 660 septic tanks completed—adding valuable skills and experience to local laborers.
Reaching Out in Bunkhouses
In partnership with local churches, Samaritan's Purse is conducting outreach in bunkhouses and transitional sites—where people have been relocated because their property is in a no-build zone. Along with their homes, many of these families also lost their livelihoods.
Two main aspects of this outreach are a WASH program, including latrine construction, and garden livelihoods—an activity that people can take ownership of with the benefit of providing vegetables to eat or sell.
Helping Coconut Farmers
Samaritan’s Purse Canada and one of our local partners has also set up a demonstration coconut farm where families that lost their coconut trees in the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan can come and learn new sustainable farming techniques. Over 580 farmers will receive a total of more than 100,000 dwarf coconut trees, and because it takes four years for the trees to start producing coconuts, farmers will also learn how to plant fruitful gardens that can help sustain their families in the meantime.
Proclaiming the Gospel
Through all of our initiatives, Samaritan’s Purse seeks to share the love of Jesus Christ with those who desperately need the hope of the Gospel. Our ministry team in the Philippines has distributed nearly 28,000 Bibles along with other supplies to help churches recover. Many Bible study groups began in villages after Bibles were distributed, facilitated by our church partners.
The ministry team also leads Bible conferences and trainings on discipleship and children’s ministry to help equip local churches to care for their communities.
Ways you can help
Please pray for the people of the Philippines, that they would continue to recover from Typhoon Haiyan physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Samaritan's Purse continues to work in the Name of Jesus Christ to help the people of the Philippines recover from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan. Please support Samaritan’s Purse in responding to disasters like Haiyan that devastate families and communities around the world. Donate Here