The devastation brought on by Super Typhoon Haiyan is on a scale so big it is "unimaginable," said Jesuit Father Edwin Gariguez, head of Caritas in the Philippines, reports the Catholic News Service.
"This is beyond our capacity," Father Gariguez told CNS by phone from Cebu province yesterday. "That's the reason why we have our Caritas network with us now."
The head of Caritas Philippines and his counterparts from the Netherlands and Germany, as well as the communications staff of Caritas Internationalis, were on their way to Leyte, one of the provinces that bore the brunt of Haiyan's first lashing on the central islands of the country. The plan was to appraise the needs on the ground and make contact with the various dioceses that have been affected.
Father Gariguez said the US bishops' Catholic Relief Services was doing the same kind of work ahead of a mid-November meeting with aid agencies and local parish priests to be hosted by Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu. When the typhoon hit on November 8, the CRS country representative to the Philippines, Joe Curry, was already in Bohol dealing with relief from the Oct. 15 earthquake, so CRS was able to get its assessment teams to Leyte by Sunday.
With about 600,000 people displaced by the storm, the task of getting aid to Filipinos posed a challenge in terms of coordination and the logistics.