Super Typhoon Rai, known locally as Odette, hit the Philippines on December 16th, and has proved to be the largest storm of the year to date. Over 300,000 people were evacuated from their homes in anticipation of the typhoon, with 10,000 villages predicated to lie in its path.
Homes, businesses, farms, and livelihoods have been torn to shreds by powerful rain, and winds reaching up to 260 kph/160 mph, with gusts of up to 300 kph/185 mph. While millions have been affected, the full extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Odette is not yet known, as many lines of communication are still down and the immediate focus is on rescuing and caring for those in urgent need. As of Monday, December 20th, the national police service announced that at least 375 people had been killed, with 500 more injured and 56 missing. Trees and buildings have fallen, many areas are badly flooded, roofs have been ripped from houses, and survivors are in urgent need of food and clean drinking water.
“Please keep the MSC, FDNSC (Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart), MSC Sisters, and all of the people of the Philippines in your prayers,” wrote Fr Carl Tranter MSC, Irish Provincial Superior.
“The central and southern parts of the country have been badly hit by the very powerful typhoon Odette, which has caused massive destruction.
We are aware of significant damage across our parishes and the schools/clinics of our sisters on Mactan island and Cebu in the central Philippines, and in Surigao and Agusan in the south.
We stand in solidarity with our Chevalier family in the Philippines and with all the Filipino people.”
As opportunities for communication are minimal in the wake of the storm, we have yet to understand the full impact of the typhoon on our extended Sacred Heart family in the Philippines. The Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have sent emergency funds to assist in the immediate aftermath of the storm, as MSC and FDNSC communities undertake the initial clean-up and search and rescue operations. We will continue to provide help as it is needed in the new year, and we ask that you please remember our Sacred Heart family in the Philippines in your prayers in the coming weeks, as they pick up the pieces of lives and livelihoods that have been demolished by this mighty force of nature.