Typhoon Rai causes widespread damage in the Philippines

21 December 2021

Destruction in Maasin, the capital of the province of Southern Leyte

Maasin, the capital of the province of Southern Leyte, was one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Rai (known locally as Typhoon Odette). Photo credit: Caritas Maasin. 

Typhoon Rai (known locally as Typhoon Odette) made landfall in the Philippines on 16 December, causing widespread damage. Over 375 people are thought to have lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes - many seeking refuge in churches or evacuation centres - and the typhoon’s strong winds and storm surges brought down trees, power lines and destroyed homes, schools and hospitals. 

Described as one of the world’s strongest storms of 2021, Typhoon Rai had sustained winds of over 195 mph near the centre, and gusts of up to 270 mph.  

Coastal areas were hit hardest. The villages and towns in the typhoon's path faced strong winds, falling trees, landslides and flash flooding. Millions of people have been affected - with thousands injured, made homeless and livelihoods lost.  

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Local Church response

"We know our local experienced Caritas partners will be on the ground to provide immediate humanitarian assistance - doing all they can to support families in need.”  

Rhea Tariq, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Response

Our local Caritas sister agency, Caritas Philippines, is closely monitoring the situation and is coordinating with the dioceses along the path of the typhoon. 

As those affected prepare for a difficult Christmas, please pray for the people of the Philippines 

Power lines have been damaged, uprooted trees still block roads, and flood waters remain high in some areas - making communications challenging. Initial reports and assessments from local dioceses show there are urgent needs for: 

  • Drinking water
  • Food packages
  • Hygiene kits
  • Temporary shelter for people who have lost their homes
  • Support to repair damaged homes. 

CAFOD has pledged £40,000 to support Caritas Philippines in their response, helping provide urgent humanitarian assistance to those affected by Typhoon Rai.

Donate to help CAFOD respond to emergencies like Typhoon Rai

In a country where 80 per cent of people are Catholic, local churches have played a crucial role in helping people prepare for typhoons. 

Rhea Tariq, CAFOD’s Head of Humanitarian Response, said:

“The Filipino people are facing up to yet another terrible storm. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

"We know our local experienced Caritas partners will be on the ground to provide immediate humanitarian assistance - doing all they can to support families in need.”

Typhoons in the Philippines 

The Philippines is hit by around 20 typhoons per year - but some recent storms have been particularly devastating. 

In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, destroying homes, livelihoods and killing over 6,000 people. 

In November 2020, the Philippines was hit by two record-breaking typhoons that caused widespread destruction.  

Good preparation can help to limit their impact. One positive legacy of Typhoon Haiyan is that the Philippines government and our Church partners have become better prepared for disasters. 

Please pray for the people of the Philippines 

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