Typhoon Odette (international name “Rai”), the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2021 had carved out a trail of destruction across several provinces in the central Philippines last December 17. It left 407 dead as of January 3, and over half a million displaced. The provinces are far from recovered. Power is still not restored in most communities, and communication is still difficult.
The typhoon affected ICM’s bases in Visayas and Palawan — both ICM staff and the Transform communities. Their homes and livelihood were destroyed, ICM offices were damaged.
But despite their challenges, ICM staff immediately got to work, assessing the damage and reaching out with food relief from the food packs they already have on hand. It was difficult, but slowly, reports from the field have been trickling in. Many are bleak, mixed with hope and gratitude, painting a picture of great need — both for the immediate and long term.
An ICM staff sent this message days after the typhoon, “I am asking for prayers for my family. They are starving right now in the streets waiting for donations. Typhoon Odette washed away their house. As of now, they are staying in the streets waiting for help from cars passing by. It really breaks my heart. My sister has lost hope; she began to walk into the ocean to die. Thank God that her son pulled her from the waters before anything worse could happen. Please pray for my family.”
In Talibon, Bohol, Pastor Samuel Casiple’s church Only Jesus Baptist Mission Church was destroyed by a huge storm surge. Huge waves swallowed the church and swept away everything inside it including Bibles and hymnals. Thankfully, there were no human casualties.
“Many typhoon victims are still standing by the roadside at 7 PM,” Xavierry, a savings group coordinator, reported. “They are waiting for a chance to receive relief goods so that their family members can have food to eat and clean water to drink.”
A former ICM staff who is volunteering during distributions said, “Every time I see people who lost their homes out on the streets running after a vehicle which they thought might have something for them, it makes my heart bleed. We can only do so much and there are still a lot of families who need clean drinking water and food that we haven’t reached out to and helped. I am here because of that, and will continue to volunteer to help.”
“I am greatly encouraged by my co-workers’ heart to serve those who are in need. Despite being on Christmas break, they volunteered to distribute food packs, drinking water, and other relief goods to the victims of Typhoon Odette. They travel to communities that are at least an hour away from the ICM office,” said Precy, our Dumaguete Area Head.
Alexander Sacay, ICM’s Bohol Area Head in Bohol, one of the worst-hit islands, said, “Today we were able to travel to our branches to check on them. My heart was in deep sorrow seeing their houses and churches crushed by the typhoon. But I can see hope in their faces. Just seeing us makes them happy and hopeful — just seeing us made them feel better. Now we’re just praying we can help as many people as we can.”