Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines: Shelter from the Storm


 By Suzanne Charest with CARE in the Philippines

A banner across the town hall building in typhoon-hit Albuera reads:

“Hard pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed, perplexed but not hopeless, thank you very much for your wholehearted help.”

On November 28, help arrived in this part of the Philippines in the form of shelter materials—tarps, nails, and tools—for three villages in the municipality of Albuera.

“Although we only had eight casualties, almost all homes were damaged or destroyed in our region,” says the mayor of Albuera, Ramon de la Cerna. “The shelter kits from CARE will help the most vulnerable people who are desperately trying to rebuild their homes. We have cleaned the streets since the first day after the storm but what we really need are the tools to move forward.”

Some three hundred people line up in an outdoor gymnasium in the village of Cambalading to receive assistance from CARE and its local partner ACCORD. Kester de Vera, the team leader from ACCORD, stands perched on stool explaining to the crowd how to use the shelter kit. A large banner is unfurled behind him that he uses to demonstrate how to properly secure a tarp to a rooftop.

A dozen volunteers, nicknamed the “Power Rangers,” haul the heavy shelter kits from the nearby truck, ripping open the boxes and handing them to recipients once they are checked off the list. 

Albuera is receiving 1,014 shelter kits, 2,028 tarps and 1,000 kitchen sets--pans, utensils, plates--shipped to the Philippines and donated by the government of Canada.

Student volunteers from Manila check each recipient’s name on the beneficiaries’ list. Twenty-one social work and community development students from the University of the Philippines are spending a semester supporting CARE/ACCORD’s emergency relief operations in the region.

Children play with the heaps of plastic string from the boxes and many families also take the plastic packaging from the tarps home.

Rosario Rieda, 50, stands smiling with her goods as she waits for a ride to her home. During the typhoon, her house was severely damaged from two fallen coconut trees. “I’m so happy because the tarp and the kit will give me shelter,” says Rosario. “My family has been sleeping at the church since Haiyan and now we can go home.”

Super typhoon Haiyan’s powerful winds blew the roof off of Perla Senter’s house. Her family of eight is now safe but live huddled under plastic sheeting stretched over one small room of their home. “We are so grateful for these goods from Canada because now we can clean up and rebuild our home,” says Perla.

There is a loud round of applause when the distribution ends. It begins to rain heavily when it is over – just another sign that people in Albuera truly need shelter from the storm.

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