Preparedness limits Philippine fatalities in Typhoon Hagupit

by Carrie Blackaby |

Residents cross a bridge, which was damaged by Typhoon Hagupit, in San Julian, Eastern Samar in central Philippines December 10, 2014. Philippine emergency workers were struggling on Tuesday to reach coastal villages on an island hardest hit by a typhoon where thousands of homes have been wrecked by powerful winds and a storm surge rising three to four meters (10 to 13 feet). Nearly 13,000 houses were crushed and more than 22,300 damaged on the eastern island of Samar, where Typhoon Hagupit made landfall on Saturday and made slow progress across the country, officials said. The bridge was built to replace another bridge which was damaged last year by Typhoon Haiyan. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

MANILA, Philippines (Christian Examiner) -- Only one year after the Category 5 super typhoon Haiyan swept through central Philippines killing thousands, the nation was hit Saturday by Typhoon Hagupit.

While Typhoon Hagupit caused significant damage to agriculture and homes among coastal communities, the death toll was significantly lower than last year. Twenty-seven casualties have been reported as of Dec. 9.

Government preparation was in part responsible for minimizing fatalities.

"This year, with Typhoon Hagupit, the authorities took no chances and evacuated whole towns and villages in coastal and landslide prone areas," said Boris Joaquin, a resident of Manila and a board member for The Bible League Philippines, an organization that distributes biblical resources and aid to Filipinos. "Personally, it is a good sign to see that we've learned our lessons from our past experiences. We saw that with preparation and by being alert we prevented tragedy and harm."

Despite the lower death toll, the effects were devastating for many.

"Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos returned on Monday to homes battered by a powerful typhoon, in a nation where thousands were killed by a super storm last year," Joaquin told the Christian Examiner. "Its effects were felt across the central Philippines."

The Bible League Philippines plans to help meet needs of many whose lives were damaged by the storm.

In December they plan to hold a Children's Christmas party for children orphaned by Typhoons Haiyan and Hagupit.

"There are currently 273 children under the custody of our ministry partners in Leyte and Samar," said Joaquin. "We will put together gift packs and school supplies for these children."

The Bible League is one of numerous organizations and relief agencies ministering to those affected by the storm.

The needs are great, yet even amid tragedy, Joaquin finds reason for gratefulness.

"It is sad to hear news of deaths, but this is very low, way below what the potential was."