‘When the first storm finished, we thought the typhoon was over and we came out of the school, but soon we learned there was a second storm coming.’
Joewe C. Ilustrisimo is a young Filipino woman who spent three days running around Kinatarcan, the small, remote Philippine island she and her friends and family live on, to make sure that all the residents were informed of the approach of Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). Her family worried as she was still outside during the last hour before the storm struck but Joewe wanted to make sure everybody took shelter in the strongest buildings on the island – the school buildings.
Since the eye of the typhoon hit directly over Kinatarcan, people speak about the ‘first and second storm.’ Most of the school roofs were ripped off during the ‘first storm’.
During the beginning of the ‘second storm’ Joewe ran with her 12 nephews, four sisters with their husbands and their parents to her parents’ house. Through very teary recollections Joewe explained:
‘I saw my father cry for the first time’
‘We all sat around in a circle hugging each other. I was just hoping the typhoon would not attack this house and I remembered saying that we all need to be strong and we need Filipino spirit to last through the night. I wept as I saw my father cry for the first time in my life. I kept saying that we cannot let a typhoon ruin our spirit.’
Typhoon Haiyan completely destroyed 96% of all the homes and government buildings on Kinatarcan. For the first time early warning systems were put into place on the island but there was no electricity and poor cell coverage so disseminating the need for aid proved to be difficult.
However in the aftermath of the storm, Joewe was invaluable in helping ShelterBox and led the coordination effort with local volunteers as well as ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) volunteers to set up tents throughout the island.
‘Joewe was so proud to show us that over 300 families are now in the position to regroup and get on with their lives due to the help provided by ShelterBox,’ said SRT volunteer Peter Pearce, who visited the island earlier this month.
Working in disaster zones is physically and mentally demanding, therefore ShelterBox is extremely grateful for Joewe’s assistance and local knowledge. We are also extremely thankful for your ongoing support that enables us to continue to bring much-needed aid to communities hit by disaster, like this one on Kinatarcan. As always, thank you.