When Typhoon Ambo (Vongfong) made landfall in San Policarpo, Eastern Samar at 12:15pm on May 14, 2020, it was the first typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2020. It had maximum sustained winds up to 155km/hr and left so much infrastructural damage in Eastern Samar that Governor Ben Evardone called it “Typhoon Yolanda Jr,” referring to the infamous 2013 super typhoon that left thousands dead in the central part of the country.
Being part of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church is one of the biggest assets of ADRA’s work in the Philippines. With nearly a million members, the SDA Church has always played a vital role in each disaster response. Through the Adventist Community Services (ACS) department of the local conference or mission, ADRA has been able to conduct each relief operation effectively and efficiently in all parts of the country without much complications.
Due to Covid-19, the disaster response conducted for Typhoon Ambo in Eastern Samar became different from all previous responses that ADRA had conducted. Travel restrictions prevented ADRA personnel from being physically present in Eastern Samar and for the first time the local Adventist Community Services was fully mobilized to serve as the Samar Adventist Mission – Emergency Response Team (ERT) to do the needs assessment, validation, and relief distribution in affected areas.
The President of Samar Adventist Mission and the lead in the Emergency Response Team Pastor Emerson Lucion shared that,
“We learned new things from this emergency response with ADRA. This was the first time that we experienced conducting cash distribution and we felt the joy and thanksgiving of the people when they received the “surprise gift”.
I’d like to thank ADRA for the quick response for Typhoon Ambo. I’d also like to thank the Central Philippine Union Conference for shouldering the local counterpart to be able activate this emergency response. I’d like to thank the emergency response team who, in spite of the burning heat of the sun and staying until late in the nights, they still had the “on the go” spirit.
I would also like to thank our church members who participated in the harvest ingathering program because the funds that we ingather are used to fund our local relief operations. We have seen people crying in gratitude as they received relief assistance, and we pray that through this ministry, they are drawn nearer to our Lord.
Finally, I would like to thank God for giving us the opportunity to be an extension of His hand in helping people in the aftermath of Typhoon Ambo.”