When we went back with Beth and her husband to survey the damage to their home we first stopped at the house of one of the ladies who works in our office here. She was also trapped in her home with nearly 100 people. Hers happens to be one of the taller buildings (3 stories) in the area and many gathered there as the water continued to rise. We brought food, water, and a few other things and talked with her for a while. She said that 86 people are thought to be dead in her area alone.
When we arrived at Beth’s house we all just stood around and stared for about 10 minutes trying to figure out where to start. There was mud covering everything.
Ultimately we sorted and piled and did what we could. There was just a trickle of clean water available to that alley so we were limited in how much we could clean up. When it got dark we left food and water for Beth’s in-laws and neighbors and made our way home.
Even as we drove through the city to get to and from Beth’s home I was struck by the scale of the destruction. It is hard to walk into a home with boxes of food and water while hundreds look on in the same situation. There is so much need here.
Today Bana spent the day watching Beth’s kids while she and her husband went to look for housing.
Bana and some of the other ladies also worked to salvage some of Beth’s photo albums that we found in the house. Surprisingly many of them cleaned up well enough to be saved.
I headed back to another area with Josh, Joel, and several other NTM missionaries to start working on cleaning up the homes of some of the other missionaries affected by the flooding.
This is a photo of a 1 year old car that was completely flooded. That dark brown area on the wall is not paint its oil. An oil storage facility had several tanks break and release thousands of gallons of oil into the surrounding neighborhoods. I guess it brings new meaning to the phrase, “Well oiled machine.”
Josh and Joel are Pilot/Mechanics with NTM aviation and I… can run a hose and scrub like the dickens J so we figured we could try to resurrect this car that belongs to an NTM family who serves here in the Manila office.
There is a lot more to be done. Today we are headed out again. We are praying that in all of this God will use us and the other believers here to be a demonstration of his love to folks.
Please pray that God will halt this next storm that appears to be coming on Friday.
Please pray for wisdom for us in knowing who and how to help. There are over 14 million people in Metro Manila and the homes of 1.9 million of those people were flooded. There are many things we could be doing. We want to know how best we can be helping.
Please pray for our Filippino friends and coworkers who have lost most everything. Please also pray for the NTM missionaries whose homes were also flooded, there is a lot of cleanup work ahead for them as well. Pray for health and protection from infections and disease.
Finally please pray that in all of this that Christ will be glorified and that through the difficult circumstances people will see His love, that they will understand and believe on Him, and that He will be honored here.
There is a general disaster relief fund that has been set up through New Tribes Mission. You can call 866-547-2460 to give by Debit or Credit Card, or send a check to:
New Tribes Mission
1000 E. First St.
Sanford, FL 32771-1487
Make it payable to New Tribes Mission and include a note designating: “For the Philippines Disaster Relief”
If you are led to give for something or someone specifically you can send it through our NTM ministry account. Please specify to us personally by email how you’d like us to distribute the funds.
For information on how to give to our NTM account click here: http://www.ntm.org/wp/jared_major/give/
Lastly, this whole situation has illustrated to us clearly that we could be better prepared for these sorts of situations. We come from the USA and the mindset that 911 = Police and ambulances and fire trucks and helicopters and skilled people trained and ready to help whenever you need them. Here it just isn’t that way. For that reason we are looking to purchase some equipment and supplies in order to be more prepared for emergency situations we might face here in our ministry. If you are interested in helping out with those things please let us know.
The Major Family
Sorry we haven’t sent out any updates in the last few days. There has been serious flooding here in Manila and has caused widespread devastation. We are grateful that in our area there hasn’t been the kind of damage as in other parts of the city.
We tried to include what pictures we have taken. These aren’t world class photos and we really haven’t taken many photos in general. I’ve found it is hard to stand in front of a woman covered in mud, carrying her baby in one arm and her only possessions in the other and snap a picture. Hope the descriptions help to give a sense of what’s going on.
First off we wanted to tell you a little bit about Beth and how God preserved her and her children.
Saturday morning for us was a slow one. We got up late and had pancakes. We were settled in for a relaxing day to maybe watch a movie with the kids and friends. The rain really started coming down sometime after breakfast but we hadn’t heard anything about the storm prior to that. Around noon Bana got a text from Beth, one of language teachers, that simply said, “Please pray, I am on the roof with the kids and the water is rising.”
Later Beth told us she arrived home earlier than normal to find her children alone in the house with water already inside. Her kids who are 11, 10, and 3 years old were just playing in the water. She quickly decided that they needed to go somewhere higher and headed for her uncle’s house nearby. When they reached the street the water had already risen to chest height on her 10 and 11 year old. Neither Beth nor her children can swim and with the strong current it was very difficult to hang onto them. She said that later she had heard of a man sitting at the school crying because he had tried to wade through the current with his two children. He had lost hold of them and they were swept away.
Once at her uncle’s Beth and the kids waited and watched as the water rose as rose. In Marikina, one of the hardest hit areas, it rarely floods and when it does it usually only knee height at worst. Some folks actually made fun of her for being so serious about the situation. Many people just stayed in their homes which would later turn out to be fatal. She said she had no doubt in her mind that they were going to die as well.
The water rose very quickly, partly because of the intensity of the rain (nearly 17 in. fell in less than 24 hours, this is more than the MONTHLY average here!) and partly because the decision was made to open the flood ways which inundated the area.
Here is a shot of the river at the flood way as we crossed the bridge. It’s hard to get the scale but I’m not sure I have seen as much water flowing that hard and fast before.
When we got the text from Beth we prayed for her and the situation. We also realized that there was a 4 wheel drive available and (amazingly) one of the NTMA pilots, Joel, had brought his large inflatable kayak from the states. We decided we would go out as far as we safely could and see if there was any way to reach Beth to help.
I went with 3 NTMA pilots, Josh, Joel, Gary along with my language helper, Wendel, who helped us find our way and to translate.
We left before 3pm and drove for hours. All along the way there were literally thousands of people wading through the water going every direction. Most didn’t have anything but the clothes on their backs while a few carried some small bundles of things. Every now and then we’d see a big truck loaded down with people making its way through the water.
When the water was too deep for the truck Josh, Joel and I put the kayak in and paddled on down the street. We found the school Beth had described in her texts and started asking around to find if someone knew where she and kids might be.
It was really heart wrenching as people would wade by and say, “Are you here to rescue people? My family is just there and I can’t reach them. Can you help me?” or “I am looking for food for my children can you take me someplace where I can buy food for them?” At one point a group of men, carrying another man, passed by and asked if we could help them float him to a hospital. He had had a heart attack.
There were so many people who needed help it was overwhelming.
Ultimately, after 18 hours and through God’s amazing providence and direction we were able to reach Beth and the kids and bring them back to the NTM guest house.
God had protected them. He brought her home just in time on a day when she normally would have been out longer. He brought them all safely across the street to higher ground. He caused the building to hold up under the pressure of the water and kept it from rising over the roof. We are all so grateful to God for protecting them!
This is a shot of the house where Beth and the kids were staying. The upper line is where the water crested and the lower is where it had dropped to by the time we came.
(More to come, we had to split this into two parts so it wouldn’t be too big)