Cecilia Espenilla, OP, DSI Coordinator of Asia-Pacific, writes about the situation in the Philippines: ?I received several emails asking about our condition here in the Philippines since most of you have seen on television the enormous flood brought about by typhoon Ketsana. Hence, I decided to give you some updates as far as I know about the recent calamities in Asia-Pacific:
1. Typhoon Ketsana has indeed poured rain last September 26 and has flooded 80% of the capital of Metro, Manila...
The volume of water in 6 hours is equivalent to one (1) month of regular rain in the Philippines. No one was prepared for that kind of typhoon; we were all caught off guarded. Since I was also out of the convent at the height of the rain, like thousands of people i also walked and waded in the flood to reach home. Not everybody reached their home and the rest stayed wherever they found a higher ground although wet, hungry and worried about their own families. I must admit that the proportion of flood is unimaginable and the volume of water in so short a time was enormous. Waters in some parts have reached up to 7 meters high. I have seen all of these and I was myself worried if I can reach the convent alive. Classes have been suspended the whole week so we are now distributing relief goods and food everyday especially to the poor.
Some of the Dominican convents and schools have been flooded up to the waist. The emergency unit of the hospital of University of Sto. Tomas (UST) is still not functioning as it is being cleaned from water and mud. I hope and pray that the new storm which at this moment is now giving us rain will not bring as much damage as Ketsana.
2. September 29, typhoon Ketsana was in Vietnam. It brought also plenty of rain and has flooded some parts of the country just like in the Philippines. I called up the sisters in Vietnam to know if they are fine and safe and I learned from the sister who answered the phone that they are doing well. From Vietnam the typhoon brought also damages to the neighboring country of Cambodia. We have also our Dominican Sisters in Cambodia but at this time I don?t have a record of their contact details so I don?t know of their condition.
3. September 30, yesterday, Indonesia was hit by a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6. About 500 buildings were badly damaged or have collapsed. And today, Thursday, another earthquake struck the same island of Sumatra with a magnitude of 6.8. They are still counting on the number who died and injured. I called up our Dominican Sisters in Indonesia to ask of their condition if they were somehow within the earthquake zone. Most of them are in Jakarta in another island. So they said they are safe and sound.
Of course Samoa who had both earthquake and tsunami last September 29 is also in the Pacific Ocean. I am not aware if there are any Dominican Sisters or Brothers in the country.
Probably we need to discern God?s message to us in Asia-Pacific. One thing sure is that we have to continue to pray for one another and for people who suffer from all forms of natural calamities. Sometimes it is not easy to understand these things but they do happen to all of us in different forms and magnitude.
My only request at this time is for us to continue to pray for all those who suffer for those who lost their loved ones, properties and homes. We cannot be with all of them but we can join them in their pain and suffering in spirit.