Adventist relief workers have been deployed to the areas of the Philippines hardest hit by typhoon Hagupit, which killed at least 27 people and caused widespread flooding, church leaders said Wednesday.
No Adventists were injured in the disaster, and the amount of damages to Adventist churches, schools, and other property remains unclear, said the church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, which is based near the capital, Manila.
The local office of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and the church’s East Visayan Conference have dispatched relief workers to the far eastern island of Samar, which suffered the brunt of the typhoon when it was pummeled by winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kilometers per hour) on Saturday.
“The regional airport is closed, so overland travel is necessary, thus slowing response time,” the division said in a statement. “Power outages are also affecting contact with Adventist headquarters in the affected areas.”
Most of the 27 deaths reported by the Red Cross occurred on Samar, a poor fishing island where thousands of homes were devastated.
Government preparations are being praised for preventing more deaths. More than 1 million people were evacuated from the typhoon’s projected path in what the United Nations has called the largest peacetime evacuation in history. Although the typhoon, known locally as Ruby, made landfall four times, it was downgraded from a super typhoon to a tropical storm by the time it passed south of Manila early Tuesday.
Adventist church members had joined people around the world in praying for God’s protection when it became clear last Friday that the powerful typhoon was headed for the same part of the Philippines that was devastated by typhoon Haiyan last year. Typhoon Hagupit proved to be much less destructive.
“As of Wednesday there are no reported casualties among Adventists,” the division said. “However, the actual amount of damage to Adventist institutions has not yet been determined.”