Monday, October 14, 2013

Post-cyclone storms still pound villages

Image courtesy of NOAA
Cyclone Phailin, gathering strength over the
Indian Ocean, October 11, 2013.
In a brief online chat yesterday, Fr. Varghese told how he got calls from parishioners who "lost their houses and so on...sad it is."

The situation's worsening today as heavy storms spawned by Cyclone Phailin sweep away villager's homes and crops. Concrete buildings in larger towns are faring better, says the priest, but thatch-roofed homes in villages are no match for these punishing rains. See this Times of India video of Cyclone Phailin and these photos  of the storm and its impact.

On October 11, Cyclone Phailin was named the largest Cyclone ever recorded over the Indian Ocean, measuring half the size of India. Thousands fled and were evacuated from the nation's East Coast, preventing widespread loss of life. So far, 23 deaths are reported.
Photo by Daniel Bartholomew
Co-blogger Marianna B. received birthday greetings
via Skype from Fr. Varghese, his mission children and
Gypsy the dog, just the night before Cyclone Phailin hit.

The evening before the cyclone made landfall, Fr. Varghese and his children sent birthday greetings via video chat to his Dalitjournal co-blogger. Next day, he joined missionary Fathers Bhaskar and Sridhar in traveling north to the yearly diocesan retreat for priests in the Diocese of Visakhapatnam.

In a region already reeling from strikes, power outages and food shortages from Telengana statehood tensions, people are ill-equipped to handle yet another disaster.

The scale and frequency of natural disaster and political strife in India accounts for the diocesan retreat not being cancelled due to the crisis. This is a precious and crucial time for diocesan priests to reconnect and gather in prayer, rejuvenating their faith in a region just 2% Christian. Special talks by Bishop Antony Pappusamy of the Diocese of Dindigul in Tamil Nadu and hours spent in Eucharistic Adoration, are focusing the priests on local and global intentions.

In past floods, Fr. Varghese carried people to safety, fed and housed them for up to ten weeks at Holy Family Mission and helped in reconstructing homes. Now, he's fasting for his people and will face major clean-up when he returns home.

"Ask all our friends to pray for us," he wrote.

If you would like to donate to Flood Relief at Holy Family Mission, please use the donate buttons for Paypal or credit cards on this site, at right. Thank you and God bless you.

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