By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
Rebuilding with help from Samaritan's Purse
ON LOCATION IN TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES. (ANS) -- While much of the bustling City of Tacloban is recovering from last year's Typhoon Yolanda, it's a different story for the very poor who were barely eking out a living before the typhoon hit.
The disaster, with 25 storm surges and Tacloban as its epicenter, stretched 200 miles from end to end, killed at least 6,000 people and affected millions more in nine regions.
According to an email ro ASSIST from Tacloban City Government's Dety Jane Atillo, in general those individuals most affected by the typhoon were fishermen, as well as people working for companies in the city, but living in the coastal areas.
Atillo said the entire downtown area got submerged in sea water.
In addition to its efforts in Tacloban, humanitarian relief agency Samaritan's Purse is also helping families in neighboring communities rebuild their shattered lives and houses.
A mini convenience store operates again
On a typical sweltering afternoon I talked recently to Marylo Copioso, who with her husband and three children ages 14, 10 and 2, lives in San Miguelay, a village that's part of the town (somewhat like an American suburb) of Santa Fe. She said her husband is a chainsaw operator, and she manages a mini convenience store.
On the day the typhoon struck, the family was at her mother-in-law's house. Copioso said they had seen a warning on TV about the impending typhoon, but didn't realize how bad it was going to be.
Once they did, she said, "Everybody was panicked." Food supplies were minimal, but in laws shared from their own small supply.
After a week, some relief came in the form of air drops of food and water.
Samaritan's Purse helped them rebuild a house on the same site as their demolished structure (in conjunction with the International Organization for Migration) by donating lumber, tarp and tools. She said that without the assistance given by Samaritan's Purse, their bid to recover would have been m uch more difficult.
Despite their losses, Copioso was optimistic about the future. She said as long as they have hope and faith, they will survive and look forward to a better life ahead.
She added that they are now better informed about paying more attention to typhoon warnings, and while scared about the reoccurrence of another disaster, will be better prepared when it occurs.
So how does the verbal sharing of the gospel play a part in Samaritan's Purse relief work? Information Officer Rebekah Price said that while the gospel is "part of the identity" of Samaritan's Purse, its acceptance is never a requirement to receive assistance.
However, Bible studies have started as a result of the outreach, and the staff has worked closely with local churches to empower people to continue the spiritual initiatives.
Purification Polidario and two daughters
Purification Polidario, a widow, and her family of four (ranging in age from 14 to 32) have also been helped by Samaritan's Purse. They also live in Santa Fe, but not in the same village as Copioso.
Like Copioso, they also heard typhoon warnings, but didn't think it would be as bad as it was, in part because the night prior was so quiet.
However, they began to get some idea of what lay ahead as the winds got stronger and stronger.
Polidario said, "We stayed inside the house even though everything was flying all over. The roof blew off and we still stayed. I was very worried. All of our livelihood was destroyed. Nothing was left."
They had an overall feeling of helplessness and panic, Polidario said. One week later, with the help of the Philippine Air Force, United Nations helicopters dropped food and water
In addition to that, neighbors shared food and Samaritan's Purse started distributing rice from the World Food Program. Samaritan's Purse also distributed tarps and other materials.
Polid ario said she is grateful for the assistance from Samaritan's Purse as well as other organizations, as it is helping her family to rebuild their lives again and start over.
All the help, she said, makes her hopeful for the future.