In November 2013, the SSIO offered humanitarian aid to the residents of the island of Biliran which was affected by typhoon Yolanda. Donated goods and supplies, including 351 family packs, were loaded in a 20-foot container and shipped on 16th November, 2013, arriving in Biliran on a barge on 23rd November, 2013. While the worst damage was caused in and around the cities of Tacloban, Guiuan, and Ormoc, typhoon Yolanda had affected 22,210 families and 97,378 persons in the province of Biliran, as reported by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) on 21st November 2013. The SSIO donated and shipped about 2.5 tonnes of essential groceries.
Dr. Cecil Espina, wife of Congressman from Biliran province, distributed the packages to the needy. She thanked the Sathya Sai International Organisation for the generous aid to the victims of the disaster.
By early December 2013, debris had been cleared in most places affected by the typhoon, and government relief supplies were being widely distributed. While the death toll had been revised upwards to 6,000, the people were beginning to return to normal lifestyles. Access between the typhoon-affected areas remained a major unresolved issue.
As of early January 2014, there was no electricity in the province of Bilran, but the repair and restoration of telecommunication systems had started. Water was available, but there was a scarcity of food in the local markets and in the grocery stores, due to flooding of storage areas in Tacloban and Ormoc. Gasoline and petroleum products were in limited supply and people lined up to buy these items.
Nevertheless, the people of Biliran had started rebuilding their damaged houses. All families in the evacuation centres had returned to their homes or where their homes used to stand. The local and provincial government were helping the affected families to return to normalcy.
[box type=”shadow”]”A Filipino brother, who believed in the teachings of Sathya Sai Baba, shared the story of his relatives who lived for the last 10 years in a town in Samar, which was hit hard by the typhoon. The two small grocery shops they owned got looted in the aftermath of the storm. The roof of their house was blown away and the walls collapsed. Strangely enough, the only place in the house that was not affected was the altar, which had a picture of Sathya Sai Baba. While everything around had been destroyed in the disaster, a big picture of Baba alone was left standing with a cover on the top.” [/box]