Matthew Will reports on Typhoon Haiyan

The following is told by Matthew Will, who recently served as a consultant to CAMA in the Philippines.

Moments of Horror

As we stood in the rubble, Joel told me a story of how he and his family survived Typhoon Haiyan. Similar to most residents of Tacloban, Joel didn’t know what a “storm surge” was. He said that if it had been called a tsunami, he would have gone to an evacuation center. No one had heard of a storm surge. Thus, most people were caught unprepared when the surge hit.

Joel, along with his wife and children, waited in their house for the storm to pass. This was no normal storm. Soon water came in the house. The water quickly got deeper and deeper. The house which they depended on for protection now trapped them. They realized they were about to die.

When there was no more hope, the powerful storm that threatened their lives opened a small hole in the wall – their window to life. Joel and his family climbed to safety on a two-story building which was normally used as a church. The church became a refuge. By this point, the water was over the roofs of the single story buildings. The water was 15-20 feet deep and moved violently back and forth. As Joel recounted the story, we talked about Christ crying with him while he mourned the loss of so many lives.

Moments of Grace

There are rare moments when we are given the honor of walking with others who have suffered in ways we cannot imagine. Words fail to describe how these experiences change us. In these moments, the cloud and confusion which often blur our vision are taken away. I was given one of these opportunities in the aftermath of Haiyan.

I worked with CAMA Services to assist with relief operations after Typhoon Haiyan. CAMA has initially funded local partners’ response with food distribution and rebuilding shelters.

This will take a while.

We facilitated an assessment with local partners to identify the most vulnerable in the communities. Then we worked to plan ways of helping the most vulnerable people. Local partners will submit proposals to CAMA with specific plans. We have recommended that local partners facilitate psychological care, distribute nutritional supplements, provide funeral services (people are currently buried in mass graves), rebuild houses, help with disaster preparedness, and develop employment opportunities. This will take a minimum of two years.

It will be a long road for many whose lives will never be the same. I know many of you have given generously to help rebuild people’s lives. Thank you for doing this, and thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Make a Donation

CAMA, the relief and development arm of The Alliance, is currently responding to this crisis with immediate aid. To help support these efforts, visit CAMA’s website and make a donation to CAMA’s Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund.

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