SINGAPORE — Traumatized residents of the Philippines and Indonesia face more difficulty as another strong earthquake rocked Sumatra and a new — even stronger — typhoon is bearing down on the Philippines.
Southern Baptists have mobilized four teams of disaster relief specialists to assist ministry efforts already underway in the Philippines, and Baptist Global Response, the international relief and development organization, is working to provide resources for relief teams on the ground in Indonesia.
The situations call for concerted prayer on behalf of both survivors and relief workers, said a Southern Baptist humanitarian worker who lives in the region.
“The area continues to be hit by disasters,” said Pam Wolf, who works with her husband Ben in leading Baptist Global Response (BGR) work in the Asia Rim. “Please pray for all that is going on in this area of the world. Disaster teams are being formed and moving into these areas. Please lift up all of these disaster volunteers. Pray for their travel and also ask the Lord to give them wisdom in their assessments and implementation of relief. The earth we are living on is groaning and people are suffering under the weight of this. Ask the Lord for peace to be brought to the hearts of those who are suffering.”
A second earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, rocked western Indonesia Oct. 1 even as rescue teams tried to reach survivors of the previous day’s quake. More than 500 people died in that tremor and thousands remain trapped under collapsed buildings.
A search and rescue team of three people left Oct. 1 from the North Carolina Baptist Men. They will be working with Hungarian Baptist Aid and the Indonesia Baptist.
Indonesian Baptists’ human needs ministry, called Rebana, is partnering with Southern Baptist field partners to address relief needs, said Jim Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response.
“Rebana got a lot of training and experience in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and our field partners have a great deal of confidence in their ability to respond to this crisis,” Brown said. “Our partners tell us the situation is fluid and needs may change, but right now it looks like no U.S. volunteers are going to be needed for Indonesia.”
Reports from the field indicate relief efforts initially are focusing on basic food and water and volunteer teams already headed to Indonesia have agreed to help with response, Brown said. Southern Baptists have released an initial $10,000 in disaster relief funds to help with the early stages of the effort. A national assessment team is headed into the Padang area to evaluate what other needs can be addressed. Brown said BGR is prepared to release more funds once an assessment is complete and long-term needs are identified.
Less than a week after Typhoon Ketsana flooded 80 percent of the Philippines’ capital, Manila, another storm bearing down on the island nation was upgraded to the status of “super typhoon.
Typhoon Parma will dump more heavy rainfall and inflict major property damage on Oct. 3, meteorologists predict. The storm’s winds have been measured at 150 mph and the Philippines’ military and civilian emergency response teams have been placed on alert. The government ordered troops to evacuate coastal and low-lying areas, as well as landslide-prone areas, and instructed civilian agencies to stockpile food, water, medicine, fuel and other relief supplies, news services are reporting.
North Carolina Baptist Men has a team that left Oct. 1 with one doctor and two emergency medical technicians. They were answering a request from Hungarian Baptist Aid and will work with HBAid and the Luzon Baptist Convention.
Southern Baptists have initially released $40,000 to help with the early response in the Philippines, Brown said. Those funds will be used primarily for water, food, clothing and other critical short-term needs, with additional funds expected to be released once an assessment is complete and long-term needs are identified. The four volunteer teams headed overseas from Texas, Kentucky and Oklahoma will join teams of Filipino Baptists and Southern Baptist field partners that already are on the ground.
Ketsana killed at least 246 people and 38 are still missing, according to the country’s National Disaster Coordinating Council. The storm, which brought the heaviest rainfall in 40 years to the Philippines, forced the evacuation of 567,000 and affected 2 million people altogether.
Ketsana also killed at least 74 people in Vietnam and nine in Cambodia, according to news reports.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.)