18 December 2011

Devastation in southern Philippines

Tropical storm 'Washi', Philippine name 'Sendong', devastated two major cities in northern Mindanao in the early hours of yesterday morning, Saturday, 17 December, killing hundreds of people. The two cities, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, are very familiar to me and to many Columbans. We still have a house in Cagayan de Oro and a parish in the city, and at one time worked in all of the parishes in the Diocese of Iligan, including those in the city.

Mindanao isn't a small island. It is larger than Ireland.

The storm was initially forecast to strike the island of Negros, expected to affect Bacolod City where I live. But it changed course and hit an area of Mindanao that rarely if ever experiences a typhoon or tropical storm.

Some friends were directly affected but nobody that I know, as far as I am aware, was killed. The home of one of our household staff in the Columban house in Cagayan de Oro was very badly damaged. He and hiw family are now staying in the Columban house. In the video you can see St Augustin Cathedral at 1:44.

Here are some text messages I received from friends.

From a former Columban lay missionary who worked in Ireland and whose home was badly damaged: Thanks be to God He saved us! Many perished in our subdivision. We are staying in Vianney (a diocesan seminary) temporarily.

From a couple deeply involved in Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME): All WWME couples OK. No electricity or water to drink or for bathing and washing. Our place, all things upside down. The miracle is the images of Jesus, Mary and Joseph were still standing, and no mud. God is so good. This couple were in Cebu at the time of the rain, wind and flooding in Cagayan de Oro and their adult son had to flee for safety.

These text messages express the resilient faith and hope that so many Filipinos have.

Please pray for those who have lost family members and for those who have lost nearly all their possessions.

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