Voice of survivors: "I was shivering and looking at flying roofs"

Voice of survivors: "I was shivering and looking at flying roofs" | World Vision Blog

John, 4, hid first in his grandmother's house. Then he and his parents ran to the nearest village hall after Haiyan was tearing the house apart. (Photo: Lanelyn Carillo/World Vision)

In the devastating wake of Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda), a small table in a cramped village hall serves as baby Patrick’s new home. Curled in a corner, baby Patrick is in a deep sleep, unaware of what just happened in his hometown.


His mother, Rowena, sitting outside the hall that now shelters families left homeless from the storm, listens to a World Vision staff member speaking with a village official. After a few minutes, baby Patrick makes a sound. Rowena comes inside and rocks him back to sleep slowly in her arms. When all is quiet again, she puts him back in the middle of the table to keep him from falling.

Voice of survivors: "I was shivering and looking at flying roofs" | World Vision Blog
Rowena and her one-month-old son, Patrick, ran to the village hall after Typhoon Haiyan had blown away their whole house. A small table serves as baby Patrick's temporary bed. (Photo: Lanelyn Carillo/World Vision)

Rowena recounts the day that Typhoon Haiyan landed in the northern part of Cebu on November 9.

“We ran inside the gym, but minutes later the iron-sheet roof was also blown away. We ran again to the village hall to take cover. The wind and rain were strong and whistling. I just gave birth to Patrick through a caesarean procedure. I was running under the rain, carrying my baby. My husband was also running with our eldest son. We feared then that if [Haiyan] would also blow away the roof of the village hall, we would have nowhere to go to that could protect us from [Haiyan’s] rain and wind,” says Rowena in Bisaya, a dialect spoken in Cebu.

Outside, many houses are badly damaged. Fallen trees, roofs, and house debris litter every corner of Libertad, a small village in Bogon City, where the wrath of Haiyan affected all 82,000 of its residents. Toppled trees and electric poles leave the city stranded in total darkness at night. Communication is also a problem. There are nearly 66,000 displaced people in Cebu alone, the Office of Civil Defense Central Visayas reports.

Rowena’s husband, Jerry, sold coal for a living. He earned Php130 (US$3) a week. They used to grow vegetables in a small garden for food. Life was already difficult for them, but now it is much worse in the aftermath of Haiyan. Without money to buy food and no garden for vegetables, Rowena’s family can only eat porridge supplied by the local government social welfare agency.

A few meters away from Rowena is a family whose house was also damaged by Haiyan. John, 4, points to his new home, which used to be their convenience store.

“We ran to grandma’s house,” says John. “But her place was also damaged. Then we ran to the village hall. There were many people there. I was shivering and looking outside. I saw trees falling and roofs flying. We waited inside until the storm calmed.”

“It was difficult,” says John’s mother, Nancy. “Everything that we have, our house, our appliances were destroyed in an instant.”

Nancy’s home, a 20-square-meter house, was flattened by the storm. All their belongings, including clothes, a television, and wooden chairs, are lost. They were only able to salvage a few things, a wooden bed, and a cabinet.

“We just made the final payment on our home for Php18,000 (US$400) and our TV for Php 6,000 (US$133). I didn’t know that we would still end up with nothing. All that money is now wasted,” she adds.

Nancy’s husband worked in a nearby water refilling station, which was one of the most important businesses among the communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Drinking water is difficult,” says Nancy. “You are lucky if you can pay Php25 (less than a dollar) for five gallons of water. Most of the people here cannot buy it. So they just take water from the well, boil it, and drink.”

The well that Nancy refers to has been left unused for years since people in her village had access to a running water system, but all the pipes were destroyed during the storm.

John comes to his mother drinking a cup of water from a mug that looks like a soccer ball. He smiles and runs again inside the house.

But Nancy looks pensive, glancing at her neighbor, whose house was also destroyed, and says, “It is difficult to recover, especially when you have no money and you’re hungry.”

Lanelyn Carillo is a communications specialist with World Vision Philippines.

World Vision has launched an emergency response to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan – possibly the strongest storm in recorded history – after it slammed the Philippines. An estimated 9.5 million people are affected.

World Vision is rushing to meet the most urgent needs of food, clean water, and emergency shelter for 400,000 people. Make a one-time donation to help provide vital relief to children and families devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

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