Missionaries serving in the Philippines are safe following typhoon; assessments continue

All Latter-day Saint missionaries serving in the typhoon-battered Philippines are safe and accounted for.

Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff confirmed the status of missionaries even as assessments of impact to Church members continue Wednesday in the Pacific Islands nation.

At least 20 people were killed as Typhoon Goni struck the Philippines over the weekend of Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Thousands of homes and shanties were damaged or destroyed, the Associated Press reported.

The storm blasted into Catanduanes province at dawn Nov. 1 as a super typhoon with sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts of 174 mph. But it weakened considerably after making landfall and shifted direction to spare the capital, Manila, before blowing out into the South China Sea. 

The Office of Civil Defense said at least 20 people were killed in Catanduanes and nearby Albay province.

A boy carries metal sheets that were blown away from houses in the winds of Typhoon Goni in Albay province, central Philippines on Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. More than a dozen people were killed as Typhoon Goni lashed the Philippines over the weekend, and about 13,000 shanties and houses were damaged or swept away in the eastern island province that was first hit by the ferocious storm, officials said.
A boy carries metal sheets that were blown away from houses in the winds of Typhoon Goni in Albay province, central Philippines on Tuesday Nov. 3, 2020. More than a dozen people were killed as Typhoon Goni lashed the Philippines over the weekend, and about 13,000 shanties and houses were damaged or swept away in the eastern island province that was first hit by the ferocious storm, officials said. Credit: John Michael Magdasoc, Associated Press

Catanduanes, an island province of more than 260,000 people that is often lashed by Pacific storms, was isolated after losing power and communications due to Goni and another typhoon that had hit a week earlier. But officials there managed to connect to the outside world on Monday after disaster-response authorities flew to the devastated island with satellite phones, the Associated Press reported.

The typhoon also devastated the nearby province of Albay, where heavy rains washed down boulders and mudflows from Mayon Volcano, engulfing about 150 houses in a single community in the town of Guinobatan, Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara said.

Goni, one of the most powerful typhoons in the world this year, evoked memories of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million in the central Philippines in November 2013, the Associated Press reported.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms each year. It’s also located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

The Philippines is home to more than 800,000 members and over 1,200 wards and branches. Latter-day Saints living on the island nation know well the pain of natural disaster. Members were, of course, counted among the thousands lost to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

Meanwhile, dozens of Latter-day Saints meetinghouses were utilized to shelter thousands in 2018 when Typhoon Ompong sent destructive winds and torrential rains across northern Luzon.