An UMCOR bus brought food to a distribution site in Dagami, Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, a Category 5 storm, struck November 8, 2013, and killed more than 5,200 people. (Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS)
For Pastor Levy LaGuardia and members of Umphress Road UMC, the news of Typhoon Haiyan, although thousands of miles away in the Philippines, struck close to home. The congregation is 75 percent Filipino.
The news was particularly devastating for two families in the church who did not know the fate of their relatives in the stricken area for days on end.
One of the missing was living in the Dallas area but, through a misfortune of timing, was visiting the Philippines to check on a home there.
Eventually, both families learned that their relatives survived, but the houses did not fare so well.
Because of the remoteness of the area, one family had not heard directly from their relative more than two weeks after the storm, but emergency workers told them their loved one was safe.
Missionary Laura Wise, whose home church is St. Luke “Community” UMC in Dallas, is stationed in the Philippines. She was backpacking in a part of the country little affected by the typhoon.
How to Donate to Haiyan Relief Funds
You can support UMCOR’s relief and recovery work in the Philippines by contributing directly to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450. All of your gift, 100 percent, will be used to help those in need.
The North Texas Conference has also established a fund to facilitate the collection of donations from our churches: #268 Philippines Typhoon Relief. Bishop Michael McKee urges those who are able to make a gift.
Donations may be made:
By putting a check in your church’s offering plate made out to your church but designated for “Philippines disaster-UMCOR” in the memo line.
Through checks mailed directly to: NTC Center for Connectional Resources, P.O. Box 866128, Plano, Texas 75086-6128
By using this secure NTC donor link for online gifts: tinyurl.com/ntctyphoonfund. All funds given through the North Texas Conference will be forwarded in a timely manner to the UMCOR International Disaster Response Fund.
“I experienced just a fraction of the heavy rains and winds that devastated the Visayas,” she wrote in a Facebook post shortly after the disaster. “I am OK. I can’t say the same for the spirit of the country right now.
“I just came from Zamboanga City, where I took part in a relief mission for those affected by the government/MNLF rebel group standoff. Many were killed there, and thousands and thousands evacuated.”
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR, quickly made an emergency grant in response to the Category 5 storm, which barreled through the Philippines on Friday, November 8, 2013.
The $97,000 grant is providing emergency food, water, and water purification tablets to 7,500 individuals, or 1,500 families, in Tacloban City, Leyte Province, hit hard by the typhoon.
Umphress Road quickly swung into action to help the disaster victims, doing a special offering and praying for the victims the weekend that the typhoon struck.
“The magnitude of the disaster and devastation” is hard to comprehend, Rev. LaGuardia said. “Scared children, people crying for food, still raining,” making it difficult to get people to safety or provide basic needs.
Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan salvaged building materials in Tacloban, Philippines, from the debris left in the wake of the huge storm that swept through the nation. (Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS)
Filipinos have experienced typhoons before, but nothing like this, he said.
What many don’t realize is that food crops were also destroyed, he said, worsening the danger of hunger. This storm is also especially tough for those living in remote areas because relief workers can’t easily reach them by transportation or communication.
“Homes were flattened, cities almost like wiped away, damages to homes, buildings, crops that are a major source of food, and the dead that are everywhere,” Rev. LaGuardia said. The need is urgent for “food, water, medicine, shelter. Major, major kinds of things.”
UMCOR delivered more than 800 food packs to survivors in Barangay Naganaga, a struggling community in Tacloban. (Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS)
The offers of help from North Texans to help have been heartwarming, he said.
“I’m glad a lot of people responding — ‘Pastor, pastor I heard about what’s going on in the community. Can I give you some money to put it in your plate?’ ”
The church was also featured in news stories about the impact on the congregation and its ties to the Philippines.
Umphress Road also planned a special Thanksgiving service to collect donations for relief aid.
A family took temporary shelter beneath a tarp outside their home, which was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, in Leyte Province. Even amid the devastation, they had a Christmas message and were thankful to survive. (Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS)