‘We Found A Family Of Eight Living In A Bus Shelter’ Reports Team In Philippines

Philippines July 2014. The Alaurin family have been living in this bus shelter since Typhoon Rammasun destroyed their home. (Chris Alderson/ShelterBox).

Philippines July 2014. The Alaurin family have been living in this bus shelter since Typhoon Rammasun destroyed their home. (Chris Alderson/ShelterBox).

Typhoon Rammasun, known locally as Typhoon Glenda, swept through the north of the Philippines on 16 July with winds of 180km and torrential rains. As the typhoon passed through the region it flattened thousands of homes, built largely of fragile materials like bamboo and thatch, as well as felling many of the region’s coconut trees. Coconut trees are the primary source of income for many of the region’s inhabitants who harvest them for copra, the raw material used to make coconut oil. 

Whilst highland regions suffered at the mercy of their exposure to the Typhoon’s strong winds, the additional barrage of a storm surge also struck coastal regions. However as a result of years of exposure to such storms and increasingly advanced storm warning measures, the death toll in the region was thankfully zero. The effect on the community was severe though with building damage and lost livelihoods resulting in many families not only losing their homes, but not having the means to rebuild.

As reported at the time, a ShelterBox Response Team was deployed immediately to assess the damage in the region with the decision to send further aid and teams resulting in Chris Alderson (UK) and Owen Smith (NZ) arriving in Legazpi last week.

The team was impressed by the community spirit that greeted them upon arrival, as Chris Alderson explains.

‘The exposure to previous storms has imbued great resilience in the people of Legazpi, who had already begun some reconstruction of homes and clearing of fallen trees when we arrived. Sadly though it quickly became clear that not all families were going to be in a position to rebuild their homes.’

‘In the township of Mabinit in the Legazpi municipality we met one family who had taken refuge in a bus shelter. Their own house had been completely demolished by the typhoon to the extent that where once stood a family household now only a few timbers and scattered household items remained.’

When Owen and Chris first met the Alaurin family all eight members, including six children ranging from two months old to 11 years of age, were sheltering in the bus shelter that measured no more than two metres by three metres. As a result of the storm both parents are currently unemployed and before the ShelterBox team arrived stood little chance of receiving support to provide shelter for their family.

Working with the local authorities, Rotarians and local community volunteers, Chris and Owen were able to erect a ShelterBox tent at the site of the Alaurin’s former family home.

‘The Alaurin family now have a warm, dry and secure place to live whilst they begin the longer term task of rebuilding their home and in turn their lives. They are one of the tens of families who ShelterBox has been able to help within these first few days of aid distribution, and that is thanks to the generous support of our donors worldwide.’

ShelterBox continues to deliver aid to assist families made homeless by Typhoon Rammsun. You can view a collection of photographs from this deployment on Flickr here.

You can donate to help families affected by disaster, here: PLEASE DONATE

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