Filipino-Canadians 'sad and praying' watching destruction from Typhoon Mangkhut
Published Saturday, September 15, 2018 4:06PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 15, 2018 4:53PM EDT
Filipino-Canadians are saddened by the fallout of Typhoon Mangkhut’s destructive winds and heavy rain which set off landslides, destroyed homes and left at least 12 people dead on Saturday.
“I feel so sad and praying that I just hope not many more lives will be lost… especially after the past typhoons that have hit the Philippines,” said Erlinda Insigne, president of the Filipino Association of Vaughan, Ont.
She added she had lots of relatives on the island, including her husband, who’s from Benquet province in the northern Philippines, which is in the path of the storm.
“We were watching hurricane Florence in the United States and all of a sudden we hear this news in the Philippines,” she said.
Insigne said that she and many Filipinos she knows are glued to the TV in the hope of getting regular updates to the strength of the storm. Looking at the devastation now, Insigne remembers how a previous typhoon flooded her village.
“We were located by the river bank, and the river overflowed and the whole village and town were flooded,” she said. “It washed away nine houses in our neighbourhood.”
Another Filipino-Canadian watching is Antonio Santiago, who left the Philippines 18 years ago, but still has family on the island.
“It’s a big one, probably almost as big as typhoon Haiyan in 2013,” he said to CTV News, referring to a super typhoon, which was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.
“The aftermath is another thing—the devastation and the repairs. There are a lot of people there who don’t have very much. It takes a lot to get their lives back together again.”
“If your house and store are blown away where are you supposed to go?” he said, adding that despite people receiving government aid, people and farmers are going to need money to rebuild their houses.
“We have to realize that when a storm hits like this, it’s life changing,” he said,
The typhoon came ashore before dawn in Cagayan province on the northeastern tip of Luzon, which is a region of flood-prone rice plains and mountain provinces with a history of deadly landslides. A significant portions of the crops in this area haven’t been harvested yet.
“And how about these farmers who lost their crops?" he said. "And then rice is going to become more expensive unfortunately.”
Typhoon Mangkhut is the 15th storm to batter the Philippines this year. Santiago mentioned that it’s not uncommon for the island to be hit by up to 20 storms a year.
About 87,000 people have been evacuated from high-risk areas of the Philippines with officials advising them not to return home until the lingering danger has passed.
'Chaotic day': aid worker
“It’s been a sad day because there are casualties,” said Joy Maluyo, field and emergency communications officer at World Vision Philippines, who spoke to CTV News Channel Saturday morning.
“It’s been a chaotic day especially in northern Luzon… the whole night was spent worrying,” she said. “We still don’t know the extent of the typhoon in the next hours or in the coming days.”
Maluyo added “it’s been terrifying” for displaced residents she had spoken with. She mentioned that her colleagues have spent time speaking with familes and children who were distressed.
“They've expressed how relieved they are that they are somehow alive after several hours of being pounded by heavy winds.”
Earlier this week, Global Affairs Canada said thousands of Canadians were in the path of Typhoon Mangkhut. The department said 3,446 Canadians have registered in areas that were impacted by the tropical cyclone.
The Canadian embassy in the Philippines had issued warnings to travellers to avoid non-essential travel to northern Luzon, north of Santiago, the Batanes and Babuyan Islands.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong and other parts of southern China are bracing for the storm.
With files from The Associated Press