United Methodists mobilize for typhoon relief

United Methodists began assessing damage and providing emergency relief after Typhoon Koppu dumped heavy rains that triggered mudslides and flooding, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

Manila Area Bishop Rodolfo Juan and his team visited Nueva Ecija communities on Oct. 22 to assess damage and provide relief in partnership with the Asuncion Perez Memorial Center, the relief-operations arm of the Philippines Central Conference. Other United Methodists worked to provide food and other emergency relief.

More than 50 deaths have been attributed to Tyhoon Koppu, known as Lando in the Philippines. The Category 4 storm came ashore Oct. 18 on the northern island of Luzon, crawling accross the province of Nueva Ecija.The deadly Category 5 Typhoon Hayian killed more than 7,000 in 2013.

Three annual conferences – the Middle Philippines, the South Nueva Ecija Philippines and the Central Luzon Philippines – are in Nueva Ecija. The storm, which moved slowly across the northern Philippines, was downgraded Oct. 21 to a remnant of a low-pressure area, the Weather Channel reported.

The bishop was provided with a satellite phone to stay in touch with his staff in Manila, as well as Freeplay radios and Nokero solar lamps, which he distributed to church members, said April Mercado. She is special projects manager for ICT4D Church Initiatives at United Methodist Communications.

Emergency food relief

In addition, the South Nueva Ecija Annual Conference mobilized to provide emergency food relief, led by the Rev. Nomer Lasco, district superintendent, and the Rev. Elizer dela Cruz, who chairs the Disaster Response Team. 

Dela Cruz expressed gratitude to those who helped raise 51,500 Philippine pesos, or about $1,100 U.S. dollars, as well as donating hundreds of pounds of rice and canned goods.

“People responded in a very short time," he said.

Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore also sent cash donations, he said.

Nueva Ecija was severely damaged, especially crops that were ready for harvest. The Philippine Star reported at least P6.9 billion, or about $149 million U.S., in agricultural damage.

Damage was heavy in the northernmost part of Luzon, said Eliz Tapia, a United Methodist Board of Global Ministries missionary at John Wesley College in Tuguegarao.

She said roads were impassable in the towns of her theological students who live in Isabela and parts of Cagayan and they have no electricity.

“Sana'y dumating agad ang tulong," she said in the Tagalog dialect. That means, “I hope help will come soon.”

Davao Episcopal Area Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco called on United Methodist churches and individuals to help flood and typhoon victims in the hard-hit areas.

"We have seen in the television, Facebook and other multimedia, the situation of our fellow Filipinos in Luzon who experienced the cruelty of Typhoon Lando. Northern Luzon and Central Luzon are still flooded and devastated by the typhoon,” Francisco said, adding that survivors need food, water and medicines.

“Some roads are not passable; thus, they are isolated and need our help,” he said.

Mangiduyos is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, news editor, newsdesk@umcom.org or 615-742-5470.

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