Major Storm Hits Vietnam After Striking Philippines

After hitting an already devastated Philippines, a tropical storm with powerful winds hit the central coast of Vietnam Monday, forcing more than 80,000 people to evacuate.

Tropical Storm Mirinae boasted 63 miles per hour winds as it knocked down trees and utility poles in Phu Yen province, causing electrical blackouts. As it made its way inland, the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression.

Though the weather center warned of possible flash floods and landslides, no deaths were reported thus far.

In the Philippines, where Mirinae was a typhoon before heading to Vietnam , the storm killed 20 people.

Mirinae is the fourth storm to hit the Philippines in as many weeks and added more stress to relief groups who have been working in the country.

"Four weeks after a typhoon we are usually heading toward the rehabilitation phase," reported Minnie-Anne Calub of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

"This is the first time we have had a series of typhoons," she added. "We thought we would be terminating the relief phase after two or three weeks but because of the continuous typhoons, rains and floods, the water won't subside and people can't go home."

Though NCCP has never had to retain the services of volunteers for more than a month until these past few weeks, Calub said the volunteers are not tired but rather worry about the people affected by the storms.

 "I have seen on the faces of our volunteers that as long as we are still healthy enough to work and there is help coming, then we will move forward," she said.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines are still recovering from September's Typhoon Ketsana, which was the heaviest rainfall in the Philippines in 40 years. Ketsana flooded 80 percent of Manila before heading to Vietnam. The first three storms in the Philippines killed over 900 people.

In response to the latest typhoon to hit the Philippines, relief workers part of the global Christian relief network Action by Churches Together plan to distribute food, water, health care, school items and other necessities to affected people. Members of the network, which includes NCCP, are also assessing the situation to plan longer term rehabilitation needs.

Relief groups working in Vietnam, meanwhile, are still making initial assessments of the situation and the needs there.