On December 16, Thursday evening, Super Typhoon Rai, with winds of about 195km per hour, hit the southeastern islands, bringing havoc and destruction. Rescue teams have described scenes of "complete carnage." Fr. Heinz Kulüke commenting on the typhoon, says, "In my 35 years in the Philippines, I have never experienced a typhoon of this magnitude and such devastation in Cebu. The following is Fr. Kulüke's assessment of the situation two days after the typhoon's landfall.
Like Typhoon Yolanda/Hayan in Leyte in 2013, the typhoon completely devastated many places were the SVDs have a strong presence. Particularly affected are parts of Mindanao (especially Surigao), then Leyte, Bohol, and the whole south of the island of Cebu, including Cebu City. The government has declared a state of emergency for these areas. However, many people could evacuate just in time from the danger zones such as along the coasts, rivers, and the slums.
As many areas are inaccessible due to the fallen trees and electric poles, there is currently no accurate information on the number of dead, injured, and missing. However, a preliminary data report the following number of deaths, Leyte: 72 dead, Bohol: 52 dead, Cebu City: 23 dead. The localities south of Cebu City, which were hit worse, are unknown. Currently, there is no electricity. More and more people do not have access to potable water. There are long lines and panic buying in front of stores and gas stations. It can take a long time until the power supply is restored. Since the internet and cell phones only work sporadically, there is hardly any contact with the outside world. Many families desperately try to contact their relatives on the neighboring islands and internationally.
The material damage is enormous. All our project areas on Cebu and the other islands are severely affected. The huts on the garbage mountains (Cebu, Talisay, Mandaue, Mactan) are too a large extent, wholly destroyed. The same applies to the shacks in other slums and the fishing and small farming villages. Food packages are urgently needed for about 5,000 families from the areas mentioned. Frt. Ruel Bancoro SVD coordinates medical care for the many injured and sick. In particular, help is needed to purchase medications. Also urgent, especially during the rainy season, are the repairs of houses damaged by the typhoon in our resettlement areas and the reconstruction of the huts of the fishermen, farmers, and garbage collectors. Fr. Roger Bag-ao SVD, the Provincial Superior of PHS, mobilizes the confreres. They are present where they are needed ushering in the immediate response to the people who require help.