Typhoon Haiyan: Stories From the Waterfront


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Cleaning up is an ongoing process at the waterfront in Tacloban. Photo: Anders Nordstoga/CARE

The following testimonies are from people living along the waterfront in Tacloban, a town in the Philippines hit hard by Typhoon Haiyan, which is known locally as Typhoon Yolanda. 

The typhoon was coming, but they didn't realize how bad it would be. Some made it to evacuation shelters, others stayed home. But they all lost their houses to the thrashing tides and violent winds as the storm tore a path through the island nation on November 7 and 8.​

When CARE's Anders Nordstoga visited the waterfront on December 13, he had the chance to interview some of the families receiving shelter kits from CARE. Many are patching together temporary housing out of the wreckage. Most said they want to stay and build new homes, but they are unsure if the government will let them continue living so close to the sea. 

Roselyn's Story

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Roselyn Salazar, 29, stands in front of her destroyed home in Tacloban. Photo: Anders Nordstoga/CARE

“We evacuated early to the church and stayed there for three weeks after. My eldest son was injured in the head and is still in the hospital, but I think he is going to get well. We received shelter material from CARE and went back to rebuild our home. It was all a big garbage dump. There were a lot of dead bodies still under the rubble.

"Some of the people living here want to stay, but I want to leave. This is the second disaster we have had in this community in the last year. In 2012 there was a fire that destroyed everything. We had just rebuilt our house when this disaster happened.

"People here have worked in fishing and drying fish, some make a living sewing, cooking or driving tricycles. After Yolanda, everything is gone, the boats, everything. There is no way to make a living. We are lucky because my husband has found a job as a janitor at the Toyota store.”

Cecelia's Story

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Cecelia Kate Torres, 34, on the left with arm on the shoulders of her 6-year-old son. Photo: Anders Nordstoga/CARE

After hearing her neighbor Roselyn speak, Cecelia Kate Torres volunteered her story. 

“My son died. He was found after 20 days lying under the rubble. He was 4 years old. I am a sick mother. But little by little I must accept, and move on. It is hard. I still have a son to take care of.

What is her hope for the future? “Work. If we get work, we will have a future. Now we are hoping for a future. Right after the tragedy, we did not expect a future. Everything was gone. I want to continue living here. I do not want to move from where my son died.”

Mary Ann's Story

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​Mary Ann Lactao, 42, is the mother of seven children, ages 6 to 26, who live in the ruins of their home. Photo: Anders Nordstoga/CARE

“We all stayed here during the typhoon. We went to the evacuation center at the city hall, but it was too crowded.

"[During the typhoon,] I had to swim with my 2-month-old granddaughter. I struggled to stay above the water. The baby swallowed a lot of water. At one time I lost her, and my 11-year-old daughter dived into the water to pick her up. I did not panic, and we managed to stay alive. In the end we climbed into a big fish container on top of a heap of debris, above the water. We stayed there, all ten of us.

"Afterwards we went to the church, and stayed there for three weeks, before we came back here. We received a tarpaulin from CARE that keeps out the rain. We want to stay here and build a new home. This is where we have lived and worked. I used to work as a laundry woman and my husband was a fisherman. Not all typhoons are like this. But I want a house that is safe for the children. We plan to build a house in strong wood.”

Rosa's Story

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Rosa Buanghug, 53, cannot bear to stay at home after loosing her child and two grandchildren in the storm. Photo: Anders Nordstoga/CARE

“I have four children. I lost one daughter and two grandchildren in the typhoon. My daughter fell in the water and disappeared. She was 17 years old. I was holding one of my grandchildren, but I was injured, so I lost the child.

How does she manage to cope with what happened? “I keep myself busy every hour of the day. I make sure I am always with other people, so I can always talk. At night, I think a lot about what happened, and I pray.

"I cannot sleep in the house where we used to live, because that is where it happened. Only my husband sleeps there. I sleep here [in the basement of what is left of a warehouse/market, 50 meters from her home]. I want to stay here. I have nowhere else to go. We are going to rebuild our home here.”

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Rosa and her family live in the ruins of this market and warehouse today. Photo: Anders Nordstoga/CARE

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