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‘It was like the end of the world for us,’ said Mayor Racky ‘Rick’ Bitong of Casiguran in the Philippines following Typhoon Utor. ‘95% of our evacuation centres were destroyed and the evacuees had to run to neighbouring houses. Thankfully no one was killed.’
Typhoon Utor hit Luzon, one of the main Philippine islands, early last week. Bitong continued to tell the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) whilst it was carrying out needs assessments that even though the isolated area is used to storms, rebuilding efforts have been hampered as even the family-run small hardware businesses have been destroyed and are therefore unable to supply the communities’ needs.
ShelterBox is filling this need by sending toolkits from in-country prepositioned aid in Clark, Manila to be distributed in the area.
‘In my eight deployments, this is the toughest challenge I have ever had to face in terms of travelling through very rough terrain simply to reach the affected area,’ said SRT member Liz Odell (UK).
‘The community in Casiguran has no basic equipment to help them make repairs to their homes so the toolkits will be vital in the displaced people’s ability to begin rebuilding their lives.’
Fearing for their lives
The toolkits will help people like Mrs. Zaliver Baranguy Lual, who lost her house and her family’s livelihood, a small store on their property. While she huddled with her four children, her husband tried to keep their belongings secured under tarps. Fearing for their lives, they took shelter in a neighbour’s masonry home. That home, in turn, lost its roof during the storm and they were forced out again.
‘We were hugging all together and crying, frightened that we were all going to die, for several hours as the storm continued through the night,’ said Zaliver.
Thanks to our generous supporters worldwide, Zaliver, her family and the rest of the community in Casiguran have the opportunity to start over and not only rebuild their homes but also their livelihoods.