For the Taiwanese, Typhoon Morakot was never expected to be so destructive. Several villages were washed away in the mountain by mudslides. There was no way to reach those remote areas for more than a week. People lived in the dark. Priests, sisters and local clergy were all stranded with the poor victims with no electricity and nor water.
The slow moving storm dumped record rainfall as it crossed southern Taiwan 7-9 August, triggering landslides and the worst flooding in 50 years. An estimated 500 people are believed dead and thousands more have been affected. Government efforts are still underway to reach survivors.
In the wake of typhoon Morakot, Caritas Taiwan immediately appealed for support to answer the needs of those already affected by the typhoon. Caritas Internationalis members responded without delay, offering their condolences, solidarity and financial assistance.
Forty young people from the Caritas handicapped centre packed aid parcels for the survivors, containing flashlights, first aid kits, toiletries, medicines, clothing, quilts, and cooking utensils.
On August 18, two Caritas Taiwan staff took 500 charity packages to Kaoshiung and were distributed to different places that were very difficult to reach by vehicles due to damaged roads and bridges. Two hundred (200) charity bags were transported by helicopter to a far village where people are stranded.
The Catholic Church is working in the mobilization of Christian and non-Christian volunteers alike. This joint collaboration is a significant gesture of unity and solidarity in time of great need.
Caritas Taiwan continues to cooperate with affected dioceses like Kaoshiung, Taitung, Taichung, Tainan, and Chiayi. Most of them have set up a few help centres for receiving relief goods and welcome the refugees. For the past two weeks the situation remained chaotic and unknown to the outside. There are many missing people whose relatives are still hoping to find them soon.
The majority of the refugees are aborigines from different tribes. They are the poorest people in Taiwan and most of them are either Christian. Spiritual comfort is most essential and needed at this time of tragedy.
At least 22 schools in the badly affected areas cannot operate in the opening of the new school year in September. Now the Taiwan government will be providing free tuition for the victims who are relocated or are staying in another town with their relatives.
Caritas Taiwan is speaking with schools in the south to find out the number of students who are displaced by the devastating typhoon. Caritas Taiwan will subsidized the students’ board and lodging, and other necessary needs so as not to impede the schooling or education of these young people.