Filipino Flood Survivors Receive Help and Hugs

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NORTHERN MINDANAO, Philippines - The survivors of the deadly flash flooding in the Philippines are trying to put their lives back together.

The death toll there is nearing 1,500 and local officials say that number is likely to go up as even more bodies are recovered.

Schoolteacher Erwin Abad is grieving for the many elementary school students who died in the powerful flash floods which struck her town in northern Mindanao, but she's also concerned for the survivors.

She turned to the Christian Broadcasting Network's Disaster Relief teams to comfort the traumatized students who escaped the tragedy.

"I cry and cry. I don't know how to comfort them because I am also a victim of the flood. That's why I asked for a program just to give my students a hug, something that I cannot give alone -- something that the parents cannot give," Abad said.

"Their conscience cannot yet bear -- especially at their young age -- losing a loved one, to experience the trauma. As much as I want to cope, I don't know where to start," she explained.

Fifteen-year-old Jessa Mae Molion said she could still hear her father shouting instructions to her and other family members as the floodwaters swept them away.

"He said, 'Child hang on to the piece of wood and don't let go. Just cling to each other.' My father was trying to help a paralyzed man, but the water was already high and the current was very strong. Until now he is still missing. I want to see my father again," she said.

Jessa Mae barely made it. She was found floating in the open ocean, clinging to a piece of wood when a boat rescued her the next morning.

Seventeen-year-old Herlyn Catampatan still complains of pain in her stomach because rescuers had to pump a lot of water from her body. She claims she was already dead when rescuers found her and brought her back to life.

"Our house was being swept by the flood water and I was trapped inside. I was rescued after an hour and just found myself lying on the street. I wanted to go back and look for my family. But I learned they are all safe. I am thankful that we are all alive," she said.

A CBN disaster relief team served lunch to Jessa Mae, Jerlyn and other students from Abad's school. The team members listened to their stories and followed up with counseling, prayers and much-needed hugs.

"Thank you very, very much! It is only once in a while that we can eat this kind of food. Most of the time we eat spoiled food. But today we were able to eat delicious food," Catampatan explained.

Molion also expressed her gratitute to CBN's Disaster Relief.

"Thank you to all of you. My brother and I are so full. We are happy to be able to eat even if we don't have money," Molion said.

The survivors were also given mats, fresh clothes and slippers. Perhaps most importantly, they received comfort and hope to overcome difficulties in the days ahead.

"My prayer is that they will pass this trial and succeed someday by the grace of God. Thank you for responding," Abad said.

CBN has doubled relief efforts in the devastated areas, distributing food and other relief goods to thousands of affected families.

Medical missions are also being conducted in evacuation centers. To address the severe shortage of potable water, the Virginia Beach, Va.-based television network has set up water purifiers throughout the area.

In the months ahead, CBN will also be there to provide for their physical, emotional and spiritual rehabilitation.

Find out how you can help CBN send disaster relief teams to sites around the world -- sending food, medical supplies and hope to the people who need it most. 

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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