Billings Missionary Watches the Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan Finishes What the 7.2 Earthquake Started
When Typhoon Haiyan hit the islands of the Phillipines on November 7th, it was catastrophe piled on catastrophe. Bohol Island, where 20-year-old Billings missionary Scotti Hilbert lived, had been desecrated for a second time. While the world watched, what many didn't realize was this natural disaster was on the heels of a 7.2 earthquake that had struck the area less than three weeks earlier.
"Honestly, it was bad enough with the earthquake because there was one quake and then there were over 3,000 aftershocks. There were some aftershocks that were over 4.8 on the Richter scale," Scotti says. Then came Haiyan. "My island was destroyed," Scotti says. Scotti is a Billings resident who found her way overseas teaching with IDEA, the International Deaf Education Association. She left shortly after graduating high school ten months ago and now calls this third world country "home."
When Typhoon Haiyan struck, however, Scotti was actually in Billings, on leave for a six-week family visit. Watching the devastation through pictures from colleagues and video on the news has been almost too much to bear.
"It wasn't just the houses and the structures that were destroyed but it was the people and their spirits that were broken," Scotti says. As she preps to go back December 3rd, she knows, "No amount of preparation can prepare you for what you are going to see – the amount of destruction. The news compared the destruction to the equivalent of 32 Hiroshima bombs."
While Scotti thanks God that she was out of harm's way, she also feels that her trip back home offered a bit of a silver lining. It's one way she can get the word out and show her hometown first hand that there are hurting people thousands of miles away that need this community's help desperately.
"We are looking at starting orphanages and it would be for hearing and deaf alike," Scotti says. "The body count after the typhoon is an unimaginable number. It increases daily by the thousands. You lift up one building and you find two people, you lift up another and there are three hundred. "
She's praying for monetary support for the months and even years of hard work ahead, rebuilding what's been torn down. "Every penny of disaster relief goes immediately to people in need. It goes to food. It goes to relief packages and to rebuilding homes." The help can't come soon enough. Roads are impassible, cutting off aid to thousands living in mountain villages. Families are living in tents next to their fractured or fallen homes. Some families are still waiting to hear if their loved ones are alive.
And while Scotti knows how comfortable life is here in the states, she longs to be back at the Deaf Education Academy where she teaches high school students. With emotion in her voice she shares, "Just the opportunity to go back and have the chance to hug and love the ones who have lost family."
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Your donations go directly to aid families hit by Typhoon Haiyan
IDEA is a USA non-profit dedicated to educating impoverished and neglected deaf children in the Philippines. While this is their mission, the relief effort is stretching island-wide. Dollars donated will help to:
Repair dorms and classrooms to be used as refugee centers
Provide trauma counseling
Rebuild homes lost to Typhoon Haiyan and the Bohol Earthquake
Provide relief packages and water to families in need
To donate, click on www.ideadeaf.org and click on the Typhoon Disaster Relief Response link on the non-profit's home page.