CFCA stories

CFCA families reported safe after super typhoon

Updated November 11, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Early reports from CFCA projects indicate sponsored friends and their families are safe after one of the strongest storms ever recorded hit the Philippines.

Sponsored youth Alliah Diane, pictured center right in blue shirt, and her
family were among those in the Legazpi project who evacuated ahead
of the typhoon.

"Yolanda left a lot of damage," said Risa Verena, Manila project coordinator. "Nevertheless, we thank God because people [CFCA sponsored friends and their families] are all safe."

Field staff members are still waiting to hear about the status of families from one community in Aklan province, served by the Manila project. Communication lines were down, electrical power was out and travel in the area was difficult as downed trees blocked roads.

Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda in the Philippines, made landfall Friday morning (Philippine time) in the Eastern Visayas region. The storm packed winds with gusts as high as 170 mph, and authorities estimated 10,000 deaths in the provincial capital of Tacloban, located on the island of Leyte.

CFCA has five projects in the Philippines, with more than 45,000 children and aging friends sponsored.

Communities in the Manila, Legazpi, Quezon, Antipolo and Zamboanga projects reported families are safe, though there was significant damage to houses, crops and fishing boats.

In one Aklan community, Madalag, the majority of the 234 CFCA families experienced damage to their homes, with 136 homes destroyed and 80 damaged.

"The houses in this hilly community are made from light materials like nipa, palm and bamboo," Verena said. "Mostly, the families that have totally damaged houses are staying temporarily in schools and with neighbors."

A coconut tree fell on the house of one sponsored child, but the family had already evacuated.

Aklan occupies the northern third of the island of Panay and includes the island of Boracay, known for its beautiful beaches.

The closest CFCA project to the devastated area is in Legazpi, which is in the Bicol region, north of the storm's center. CFCA sponsored friends and their families are safe following the storm, reported Gari Olavario, Legazpi project coordinator.

"Thank God we are safe," Olavario said. "None of the sponsored families and the Legazpi team is greatly affected."

Many families in the Legazpi area moved to evacuation centers before the storm made landfall in the Bicol region.

Almost 300 families from high-risk and flood-prone areas, along with families from the 8-kilometer danger zone around the Mayon Volcano, were moved by order of the provincial government to evacuation centers Nov. 7. All government advisories are now lifted, and families were making their way home.

"Though there are no casualties, the team will be assessing the effects of the typhoon to the crops and properties of our sponsored families," Olavario said.

Corazon, the mother of sponsored child Jealyn, stands in their wrecked
home in the eastern seaside community of Daet. CFCA will help the
family rebuild.

He added that "our prayers are for all our brothers and sisters in Tacloban, Leyte, which is really heavily ravaged by the typhoon."

Tacloban is about 350 miles southeast of Manila. Most of the deaths there appear to have been caused by surging sea water strewn with debris that many described as similar to a tsunami.

In the Quezon project, the family of one sponsored child in the eastern seaside community of Daet lost their home. CFCA will provide assistance for the family to rebuild, project coordinator Mavic Ihap said.

In the Antipolo project, 900 families in Iloilo and surrounding areas were safe. The communities had been under the highest warning level as the typhoon approached.

Several communities reported families returning home after evacuating to find roofs blown away and other damage. The home of one sponsored child was destroyed.

"Their basic farm crops, particularly bananas, were massively uprooted," said project coordinator Malou Navio.

Flooding impacted one community still recovering from an earlier typhoon, and some families remained in a local evacuation center.

Antipolo staff members, parent leaders and ERPAT rescue teams were visiting communities to assess needs and offer assistance, Navio said. ERPAT stands for

Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities, and the group's members are fathers of CFCA sponsored children.

In the Zamboanga project in the southern Philippines, high winds and thunderstorms resulted in an injury to a sponsored child’s mother who was collecting firewood when the severe weather hit. The mother was released from the hospital and expected to make a full recovery, said Rhodora Partosa, Zamboanga project coordinator.

The Catumbal community center, located inside the project’s Centro de Roberto compound, collapsed in the high winds. Parents of sponsored children are leading cleanup efforts and hope to rebuild, Partosa said.

CFCA provides assistance for families affected by natural disasters through the Disaster Assistance Fund. Families of sponsored children and aging friends will need help to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

Families and staff members in the Philippines are grateful for the concern shown by sponsors and the entire CFCA community.

"To our dear sponsors and CFCA family in Kansas, thank you for your concern and prayers," Ihap said.

While the CFCA community is thankful there has been no loss of life among sponsored children and aging friends, she said, "we are also grieving, because hundreds of our Kababayans (fellow Filipinos) died during the slash of Typoon Yolanda in the Visayas region."

Partosa echoed those sentiments.

“We also follow the news and how Typhoon Yolanda brought devastation to some parts of Visayas,” she said. “I can't imagine how difficult it is; our prayers are with them in these very difficult and challenging times.”

(Tristan John Cabrera, CFCA communications liaison in the Philippines, contributed information for this story.)

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