September News (Typhoon Mangkhut)
Lesley Gomez left England at 22 to serve as a missionary in the Philippines. Today she and her husband Peter run LAMA, a charity and safe house for the abandoned boys of the streets.
Thank you for prayer! You will have seen the recent news about super typhoon Mangkhut which ploughed through Northern Luzon in the Philippines on September 15. I am also watching BBC News, SKY and CNN for updates – having come home to Seaford, with my eldest son Michael at the end of August to see my Dad. Michael returned on September 13 and arrived in Manila just a day before the storm started bearing down on Cagayan Province before heading our way. Forecasts were completely accurate!
An estimated 5.2 million people were at risk as the eye of the storm was around 77 miles wide, with wave heights reaching 55 feet. Soldiers and the Red Cross began preparing, severe evacuation warnings were issued, and this time heeded. Schools closed – allowing Rain, Riley and Jeli to accompany Peter to Manila airport. The sun was shining when they left home and as they left the airport. They were stuck in a 4-hour traffic jam leaving Manila and finally arrived home in San Fernando really tired at 2am.
The storm hit with full force early morning September 14, several families had already evacuated to LAMA House, carrying blankets and belongings and children. Ana and Simon live at LAMA, so they were on evacuation duty, with our night staff Rico. The boys helped to carry everything up to the 2nd floor for safety from possible flash floods. Last week all the rooms were cleaned, sorted and tidy, ready for inspection for re-accreditation by the DSWD (Social Services). At times like this the re-accreditation is not priority!
When the river burst, flood waters rushed to knee level in their homes – more families left their homes terrified. Almost 500 people evacuated as winds reached 300km/hour ripping up trees, roofs flying off. Rain battered through the sides of our closed windows as Rico and the boys mopped up with towels and blankets. LAMA older boys holed up in Simon’s room as more and more people needed a space. Up in our flat, the girls and smaller boys, and our big dog with Ana! Mopping up and lots of praying, and no sleep for anyone!
We used our funds to feed the 500! And the next day several local groups brought some donations to help. The Barangay Captain gave his chickens! Jose came in to help despite being ill and Peter came in from our home in San Fernando – LAMA House is in the next town of Bauang. Sam was in Baguio with his family, where all roads were closed due to landslides.
2 days in, the flood waters began to disperse as the storm weakened. People started leaving, walking home to salvage what was left, make repairs and clean up. Their simple homes have to be rebuilt. LAMA boys and staff collected the laundry, mopped the floors, cleaned toilets and didn’t-make-it-to-the-toilets. The goats were ushered back to their fields and their ‘toilet’ cleaned up from our dining room floor! Everything that had been put up high for safety – computers, files, documents, belongings – were brought back down. Our exhausted team fell into bed. Electric and internet was cut.
Now we watch as reports are coming in on the news channels – more than 60 people killed, mostly in landslides in Benguet Province, not far from us near Baguio. At least 32 died in the mining town of Itogon, where miners and their families were buried under a landslide – after they took refuge in a building where the church worshiped on Sundays. Thankfully evacuation procedures have improved, so the number of casualties is lower than in the past – but the typhoon left a trail of destruction, with trees and electric poles down and farmland destroyed.
Now to get ready again for re-accreditation inspection!
Please pray for our team at LAMA House, the girls and boys, and those who have lost homes and possessions yet again. Please consider sending a donation to replenish our funds so we can help more.