The social action arm of the Philippine Catholic Church has convened its "Surge Team" as a potential "super typhoon" threatened to ravage the country on Sept. 14. Father Edwin Gariguez, head of Caritas Philippines
, said his team was already monitoring the typhoon as authorities began evacuating about 800,000 people from coastal areas. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
announced the evacuation was ongoing in at least eight northern Philippine provinces. Ricardo Jalad of the Office of Civil Defense said an estimated 4.3 million people would be affected by the typhoon, which was expected to make landfall on Sept. 15 and has the potential to inflict widespread damage. He said authorities have already earmarked 1,742 centers that will house affected families in northern provinces. Father Gariguez said the Catholic Church's "Surge Team" has been tasked to coordinate with dioceses around the country as to their preparedness and the necessary responses they would need. Church aid workers and resources have already been deployed in several areas for possible "on-ground assessment, relief procurement, and distribution," said the priest. "We are also monitoring government actions to complement responses if necessary," he said. On Sept. 13, Typhoon Mangkhut had winds of 255 kilometers per hour as it approached the northern tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon on Sept. 14. The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms a year. Forecasters said Typhoon Mangkhut was the strongest so far this year with a 900-kilometer diameter and sustained winds of 205 kph. The deadliest storm to hit the country was Super Typhoon Haiyan
, which killed more than 7,500 people and affected millions of others in 2013.