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Philippine families evacuate before super typhoon

Updated November 8, 2013

This story was published in 2013 when we were known as CFCA. In January 2014, we changed our name to Unbound. Check this section of our website often for stories about the families we serve around the world and the news that impacts them.

MANILA, Philippines — Families of sponsored children and aging friends in CFCA projects took shelter in evacuation centers as one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded swept through the Philippines.

Sponsored youth Cherry and her family were among families in the Legazpi project who voluntarily went to an evacuation center ahead of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Sponsored youth Cherry and her family were among those in the
Legazpi project who voluntarily went to an evacuation center ahead of
Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Typhoon Haiyan made landfall Friday morning (Philippine time) in the Eastern Visayas region, where news organizations reported more than 100 deaths in the city of Tacloban.

The closest CFCA project 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 in an email. "None of the sponsored families and the Legazpi team is greatly affected."

There have been no immediate reports of deaths or injuries among CFCA sponsored children or aging friends.

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.

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

CFCA has five projects in the Philippines — Antipolo, Legazpi, Manila, Quezon and Zamboanga. More than 45,000 children and aging friends are sponsored.

While a wide swath of the Philippines will be affected by the storm, the Legazpi project was expected to see the greatest impact among the CFCA projects. There are 9,100 sponsored children and aging friends in the project.

Early reports from Aklan, a community served by the Manila project, said a number of roofs were blown away and houses destroyed. About 700 area families are part of CFCA.

“We just continue to pray that only material things will be affected, and [there will be] no harm to lives of the people there in the affected areas in Aklan,” said Risa Verena, Manila project coordinator.

In the Antipolo project, ERPAT rescue teams were at their posts and ready to provide assistance in their communities. ERPAT stands for Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities, and the group’s members are fathers of CFCA sponsored children.

Calm before the storm: A fisherman sets out on a quiet sea last month in Legazpi.
Calm before the storm: A fisherman sets out on a quiet sea last month
in Legazpi.

News outlets reported Haiyan, named Yolanda in the Philippines, packed sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts as high as 235 mph as it made its way across the Western Pacific toward the central Philippines. The storm, equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, is being called one of the strongest ever seen.

High winds and heavy rains from the 500-mile-wide storm are expected to affect millions of people, with the Philippine weather agency issuing warnings for flash floods and landslides in more than 30 provinces. Schools were closed in many areas.

People living in temporary shelters on the island of Bohol, which was impacted by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake last month, are among the most vulnerable. While the quake was felt in several communities CFCA serves, there were no injuries or serious damage to homes reported by CFCA projects.

CFCA provides assistance for families affected by natural disasters through the Disaster Assistance Fund.

Families and staff members in the Philippines appreciate the concern shown by sponsors and the entire CFCA community in times of natural disasters.

“Thank you for keeping us and our entire country in thoughts and prayers,” said Malou Navio, Antipolo project coordinator.

(Information for this story was contributed by Tristan John Cabrera, CFCA communications liaison for the Philippines.)

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