Harry Osborne passed along this update from the Philippines
“Since it will be Thursday before we can start to distribute the benevolence on Leyte where the need is the greatest, the funds already committed for sending via MoneyGram should be available before we leave from Cebu going to Leyte on Friday. The need here is so enormous that we have had to focus on meeting immediate needs for survival at this time and leave longer term efforts of rebuilding and other needs to be met at a later date. My plan is too also bring a bag of first-aid and sanitation supplies with us to Leyte. With the massive death toll and release of open sewage from the floods, the danger of disease taking another large toll is a very real and present danger. From what we hear, our brethren are in great need of such supplies.
To give you a sense of the enormity of the disaster, the major international rescue and relief organizations were saying the death toll may exceed 10,000! There is some speculation that number may be very low and may go much higher. The Philippine government said just yesterday that the number might exceed 1200. In other words, no one knows the magnitude of this disaster at this point, but time a new area receiving a direct hit is surveyed, the numbers keep going up. Today, U.S. Military helicopters and air support began an aerial assessment of the damage and they are saying the damage is unprecedented. One of the crews likened it to an F4 or F5 tornado, except it is 100 miles wide and several hundred miles long. There are hundreds of small, inhabited islands that the full force of the storm impacted. Each one presents a new challenge to reach, assess and get relief efforts going.
In our travels yesterday, we did not see a single national Philippine government vehicle or relief effort of any kind, nor did we see any international relief organization presence. If what we saw was the lesser problem compared to other places, I shudder to think what the situation is in such places. When people in the streets of Bogo saw me as a white American, it was obvious that they were looking at me in hopes that I would help. I don’t know if I will ever be able to forget the utter helplessness I felt on that occasion to see so many people in such dire need, looking for help, yet knowing that I had no way to help. Our brethren now have food to eat for several weeks, the masses of humanity I saw have nothing and no hope in sight. May God in His providence make a way to ease the tremendous suffering of these very poor and hopeless people — ultimately bringing them to seek for a way of hope that leaves the calamities of this life to forever rejoice in a heavenly hope that knows no sorrow and no end! God bless!”
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He also passed along some photos to provide a frame of reference for the impact of the storm.
Though there are a few graphic images of the destruction, I have omitted ones far more graphic and disturbing. These will give a sense of the total destruction in Tacolban, mostly by the storm surge but also the intense winds.