Philippine Typhoon Victims Face Bleak Christmas

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NORTHERN MINDANAO, Philippines -- Christmas could be bleak for many survivors of the typhoon that recently struck the southern Philippines.
    
The death toll is now exceeds 1,000, and more than 300,000 people lost their homes.

A Bleak Christmas

Several days after the flash floods swept through Mindanao, workers are still finding dead bodies. These towns are now submerged in thick mud.

While most of the world is preparing for Christmas, people here are trying to salvage whatever is left of their possessions.           

Agustin Salamanca painfully recalled how several members of his family, including his 13-year-old grandchild, drowned in the flood.

"My sister tried to save some of her belongings but the water rose quickly," Salamanca told CBN News.

"She shouted for help, but it was too late," he recalled. "The current was too strong; they cannot open the door. The next day, their bodies were found buried in the mud."

The floodwaters came in the night while everyone slept. 

Most people did not take the storm warning seriously because storms rarely hit this region. No one believed a calamity of this magnitude would happen here.          

Victims like Mario Hernani are still in shock.

"The current was very strong and the water was already up to my chest, and so I broke down the walls of our house to release the water," Hernani recalled.

"Then I swam and saved my family one by one," he said. "I went back to try to get our savings, but that's when a wooden panel hit my head. And so I gave up and just saved myself."

CBN Disaster Relief

When CBN Disaster Relief came to Hernani's community, it lifted his spirits. He said the blanket and the mat that workers gave him have been a tremendous help. 

"Thank you very much CBN. This is a big help to us," he said. "This is really what we need, especially the mat because I only spread the old shirts to lie on."

"We are happy when people like you come and show they care," he added.

CBN is continuing to look into victim's needs and help them recover from the tragedy.

"This is the best time we can share the real meaning of Christmas because you will have to sacrifice a lot, give to people and share with them the hope that we Christians have," said Dr. Kim April Pascual, chief operating officer for the relief organization. 

CBN Disaster Relief workers are setting up water stations and will hold medical missions in the coming days.

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