- (Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, residents of the Philippines are turning to God and resting on their faith leaders, as tens of thousands struggle to survive.
One such faith leader who is providing comfort is Rev. Edwin Bacaltos, of the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in central Tacloban. He is assuring that the city will rise again.
Typhoon Yolanda roared through the Central Philippines last week, killing almost 4,000 people. That number is expected to hike up as recovery efforts continue.
"Hold on to your faith, be strong, and Tacloban will rise again," the Rev. Isagani Petilos told his congregation Sunday, according to CNN.
But many in the heavily Catholic country are wondering how God could allow such devastation and take so many lives.
"God is not the cause of the suffering," he said. "This is the work of nature."
Government officials are also offering their prayers and during a prayer in a Filipino senate session Monday, Filipino Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile prayed for strength.
"Strengthen our faith that we may overcome and be born again into a new world wiser and more human to the needs of others," he said.
The government has pegged conservative estimated damage to infrastructure and agriculture at roughly $300 million.
Still, the problems facing the people of the Philippines will not go away quickly and could linger after the United Nations stated that economic and human costs could continue to rise if relief efforts are not able to respond fast enough.
Crops, such as rice, are a main source of income for many in the country and if aid does not get to rice-growing regions soon farmers could miss out on next year's yield.
Many others on the coast rely on fishing to supplement their income but the storm destroy much of what fisherman depended on to feed their families.
"The destruction of boats, fishing gear, fish ponds and related equipment left many families with no means of livelihood and decreased protein intake," the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.
It is estimated that as many as 25 million people are affected, with local reports describing houses damaged and large trees uprooted after a storm surge of over 20 feet crashed onto shore with winds reaching over 200 mph.
"There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction," Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, told the BBC. "It's absolute bedlam right now, but hopefully it will turn out better as more and more supplies get into the area."