Peace and comfort

Published 9:41 pm Saturday, November 16, 2013

The numbers are just staggering. 3,633 dead. 12,487 injured. 1,179 still missing. More than 600,000 people homeless. And as the cleanup following Typhoon Haiyan continues, those numbers continue to rise.

The stories coming out of the Philippines are heartbreaking. The seaside village of Tacloban is thought to have lost one-eighth of its 400 residents. Some residents are finding deceased neighbors, friends and family members amid the rubble left behind by the super typhoon. The search for victims is turning from a rescue effort to a cleanup operation.

Here in America, many Filipino residents watch the news with an awful mixture of resignation and dread, knowing that their friends and loved ones who remain in the affected areas of the Philippines are suffering so badly and that the places they remember so well have been forever changed.

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When Typhoon Haiyan — also known in parts of the affected area as Typhoon Yolanda — struck the Philippines, it struck with a ferocity hitherto unknown to man. With sustained winds of 160 miles an hour and gusts nearing 200 mph, the storm hit with a violence that shocked the nation of islands. Even worse was the 16-foot storm surge that accompanied this true superstorm.

The devastation left behind is staggering. And yet, in the words of a Suffolk doctor who is a native of the Philippines, the people there are resilient. “The Filipino psyche, if you look at them, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances, they bounce back,” said Dr. Rise Faith Dajao, a family physician who practices in Western Branch.

Before they can bounce back, the victims of Typhoon Haiyan must first literally pick up the pieces of the broken homes. And, for a while at least, each day of doing so is likely to bring some fresh new horror. During that time, especially, we will pray for them to find peace and comfort and the ability to see beyond the terrible numbers.