Typhoon Haiyan: Overwhelming the Senses


Anita Mariano, 70, lost her eyesight eight years back. She had a bad headache, decided to sleep it off, and when she awoke, she could no longer see.

Although safely evacuated in a barangay hall, losing this sense added a heightened drama to her experience when Typhoon Haiyan struck the island of Pinamuk-an in the Panay region of the Philippines in November 2013.

Outside, one of the strongest storms on record was pounding her village. She could hear the sounds of heavy wind blowing the roofs off houses and debris being scattered about. Children crying. People screaming.  

She remembers being very nervous, shivering and praying. She would cover her head with each loud bang, in case it was the roof above coming down. 

Meanwhile, not too far away, her son, Leonilo Mariano, 50, had decided to stay behind to keep an eye on his house, which he shared with his mother, 13-year-old son and another family.  

But the winds were far too powerful for their home. Thankfully, Leonilo was out of the house as he watched the walls collapse and saw the roof come crashing down. 

He crouched in a ball on the ground and wept.

With no home to monitor, Leonilo headed to the barangay hall where he was able to find his mother. They embraced. 

“Mother, we don’t have a house anymore,” he said.

“What will happen to us? Where will we live?” she replied as the two cried together.

After the storm, with the help of his siblings, Leonilo was able to prop up the roof of his house and construct a makeshift home for his mother and son.

However, these remained difficult times and he is so thankful for the food assistance his family received from CARE and local partner USWAG as part of their Typhoon Haiyan emergency response. 

“We had nowhere to run, we couldn’t seek help from friends and relatives because they too were affected,” says Leonilo. 

His family received food packages in late November and December and cash assistance to buy food in late January. He used the 764 peso cash assistance (roughly $17 USD, the cost of a food pack) to buy food and also medication for his mom and school supplies for his son.

Unlike many others in his community, Leonilo’s fishing gear was not completely destroyed, so he was able to repair his equipment and begin earning some money to work on rebuilding his home.

Anita remains traumatized from the typhoon. A heavy thunderstorm hit the island last night and, like other storms since Haiyan, it left Anita with a loss of appetite, nervous and shivering. 

Despite this family’s efforts to rebuild and recover, it will not be easy to forget.


Written by Darcy Knoll, emergency communications coordinator for CARE Philippines


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