Religious leaders are calling for prayer as villagers in a central Philippine region prepare for the entry of a powerful storm one year after the deadly Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area.
According to AccuWeather, Philippine government forecasters said Typhoon Hagupit, which was packing sustained winds of 122 mph and gusts of up to 230 kmph, may hit Eastern Samar province on Saturday and barrel inland along the same route where Haiyan hit last year.
On Wednesday, Archbishop Jose Palma and Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs chair and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabill appealed to the faithful to pray for the people who will be affected by the imminent storm.
"Let us intensify our prayers that the in-coming typhoons will not cause much damage," he said.
"Prayers help a lot. We appeal to the people to be prepared...We also appeal to the people to be generous to help any area that will be damaged by the typhoons. It is time once more to show our solidarity with each other."
Palma has instructed priests to use their churches, pastoral centers and even chapels to house all evacuees in their parishes, regardless of their religion.
"We welcome everybody, even of other faiths," he said. "If we are united, if we have faith, we can overcome everything."
Roger Mercado, governor of Southern Leyte province, said that local government officials and emergency teams from the Red Cross, army and coast guard are bracing for swollen rivers, landslides, flash floods, and storm surges.
"All radios and televisions are open, cell phones are being charged. People are buying food stuff, preparing fuel and gasoline supply," he told local radio station DZMM according to Reuters. "People are now conscious of preparations."
Large portions of the Philippines are still recovering from the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan, which leveled villages and left more than 7,300 dead and missing in November last year.
Haiyan survivor Emily Sagales said she and many of her neighbors in central Tacloban city, which was worst hit by Haiyan, have packed up their belongings and fled to the safer homes of relatives. Panicked residents have flooded grocery stores and gas stations to stock up on dry goods and water, she revealed.
Sagales, who gave birth to a baby girl at a clinic among the wounded and dying in the aftermath of last year's typhoon, said incoming storm is an all-too familiar nightmare for many people.
"The trauma has returned," the 23-year-old said. "It's worse now because I didn't have a baby to worry about last year and I had not experienced how it was to be right in the middle of a big typhoon.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, there is no official typhoon season in the western Pacific, as typhoons can form there year-round. On average, about 30 tropical storms and typhoons form in the western Pacific Ocean each year.