Home > News > A Year On: Response to Super Typhoon Haiyan

One year ago, super typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) made a land fall in Eastern Samar and slashed into the mid-section of the country crashing everything that came its path all the way to the western corridor in the islands of Palawan. Haiyan was the strongest typhoon that ever visited the earth, packing 350 km per hour wind speed near the centre. It claimed so much lives, destroyed vast farms, houses, infrastructures, and everything else without mercy. The swirling wind was so powerful that it elevated the sea water level and pushed inland and swept away any creature it could reach.

"We transported truckloads and truckloads of relief goods to far flung areas in Leyte and Northern Cebu crossing rough seas, on congested cargo ships and involving scores of volunteers. The packages we delivered consisted of different kinds that include rice, canned goods, clothing, blankets, sugar, beans, kitchen utensils, tents, potable water, sugar, coffee and others," says Fr. Eduardo Rocha, SVD. Photos: Divine Word Missionaries.

“We transported truckloads and truckloads of relief goods to far flung areas in Leyte and Northern Cebu crossing rough seas, on congested cargo ships and involving scores of volunteers. The packages we delivered consisted of different kinds that include rice, canned goods, clothing, blankets, sugar, beans, kitchen utensils, tents, potable water, sugar, coffee and others,” says Fr. Eduardo Rocha, SVD. Photos: Divine Word Missionaries.

In the aftermath, the people didn’t have food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear and home to live amidst indescribable pain of losing family members. All they had was a naked reality of having absolutely nothing, except the lives of those who survived.

With the help from all sectors of life, the people have decided to live on and painfully rose from the rubble of destruction to begin anew. Tacloban city that was worst hit has been cleaned up, electricity restored, houses rebuilt, communications and transportation facilities reinstalled. The children are now back to school, employees of government and non-government offices have managed to return to their daily routines and the general public have retraced their steps back to normal lives.

Providing temporary shelters for the people was by far the biggest component in the Divine Word Missionaries’ (SVD) interventions for the typhoon victims. In the project, we provided an average of 20,000 pesos worth of building materials to each family. The materials we gave were GI sheets, nails, plywood, and lumber. We did not give cash to beneficiaries. The latest count of houses we assisted to build is 5,500. This project, though really necessary, was the most difficult to implement due to several reasons: enormous amount of money involved, lack of building material supplies (many times materials had to be bought from far Manila), safeguarding transparency, accountability, and assurance that the people would not sell the building materials for food and other needs.

The Immediate Relief
The relief operations carried out by the SVD family were enormous, rapid, far reaching and pervasive. We transported truckloads and truckloads of relief goods to far flung areas in Leyte and Northern Cebu crossing rough seas, on congested cargo ships and involving scores of volunteers. The packages we delivered consisted of different kinds that include rice, canned goods, clothing, blankets, sugar, beans, kitchen utensils, tents, potable water, sugar, coffee and others. The goods were donated by Filipino communities abroad and shipped to Cebu by plane or by boat. Outstanding were 290 boxes of relief goods from Hong-Kong, 30 big boxes from Taiwan, 51 huge boxes of blankets from Memphis, USA, 3 40-footer container vans of cereals from Hamburg, Germany, Balik Bayan boxes from Korea, Singapore and Italy and many others. Not to be outdone are domestic donors. Fr. Rocky Aquino, SVD of St. Jude Parish in Manila travelled close to ten times to Bohol and Tacloban to deliver the goods he raised from his affluent parish. Other SVDs from the Philippine Central and Northern Provinces did their share of the efforts as well, especially their respective JPIC coordinators and heads of institutions.

Other sources of support for the relief operations were in form of cash. Donors and benefactors, groups and individuals, local and international, institutional or otherwise, all responded in haste to remit their financial aid to the cause. The donations were used to buy much needed basic commodities to supplement other goods shipped to our operation centre. Some cash donations were used for transportation expenses, bill of lading, food for volunteers, and repacking materials. The total number of packages distributed was 27,294 distributed in several batches to many much needy locations.

Logistical supports were largely provided by the University of San Carlos in Cebu. We utilized their gymnasium as relief goods sorting and packing centre. The university provided us trucks and buses to transport the goods. Volunteer students also came from the same university.

Special Report from Fr. Eduardo Rocha, SVD, Provincial Superior with the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD), based in Cebu, Philippines.