Christmas Season is a season for celebration. However, the last Christmas season was spent in suffering by many of our sisters and brothers devastated by Typhoons Urduja and Vinta. At the beginning of the year saw a new typhoon—Agaton. The areas devastated are the southern and eastern part of the Philippines and have affected thousands of people.
Typhoon Urduja (Kai-tak) brought heavy rains in eastern Visayas (Samar & Biliran provinces) few days before Christ-mas, followed by typhoon Vinta (Tembin) which impacted large part of southern Philippines. Vinta made a landfall in Mindanao on late afternoon of December 21. Widespread rain in areas of eastern, central and western Mindanao caused flash floods and mudslides. Provinces that were affected in-clude Davao, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Zamboanga Peninsula. In Lanao del Norte, one entire community inhabited by more than 100 families was totally wiped out by a flashflood. The last count has shown 266 fatalities.
Apart from the thousands of typhoon Vinta victims, a num-ber of UCCP members, local churches and institutions were heavily affected in the Northwest Mindanao Jurisdictional Area (NWMJA). In the Central Mindanao Area Conference (CMAC), the sanctuary of UCCP-Macasandig and the houses of its 28 member-families were denuded and devastated. Ten (10) of the victim-families took temporary shelter at the 2nd floor of the CMAC Headquarters in Barangay Macasan dig. The 18 families evacuated to the barangay gymnasium. This was one of the barangays in Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) that was hit hard by typhoon Sendong in 2012. Fifteen (15) member-families of UCCP were likewise displaced in Barangay Balulang, including the two (2) families whose houses were totally washed out by the flood wrought by typhoon Vinta. Per initial report from the Bukidnon Area Conference (BAC), at least 6 families were affected by the flash-flood: five (5) from Inarawan and one (1) from Batangan.
Relief goods were immediately given by the CMAC office as the UCCP initial response.
Pilgrim Christian College (PCC), UCCP-owned school in CDO, was direly affected. The Barrio Pilgrim Campus which houses the school gym and the Pilgrim House (residence of the School Chaplain) was flooded. All the equipment for technical courses including vehicles for automotive and driving courses, welding equipment, appliances and equipment for cookery and bread/pastry courses, sports equipment, school band musical instruments, and all the things and appliances of our Pas-tor’s family were submerged with and damaged heavily by the six feet flood that hit the campus.
The PCC main campus still opened its door to accommodate the hundreds of victims of the flood. The school provided clean water supply from its motorized deep well. Relief and cleaning were done and the school also provides preventive medical services to evacuees.
Agaton, the first typhoon for this 2018, has flooded some ar-eas in Surigao, Bohol, western Visayas and Palawan. It also affected Eastern Visayas and parts of Southern Tagalog. We still need to gather reports regarding the effects of typhoon Agaton.
We sincerely appeal to our friends and international partners for their prayers and any support as we try our best to respond to the typhoons victims.
Rannieh Mercado (UCCP)