‘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

ShelterBox Responds To Typhoon Rammasun

Philippines 19 July 2014. A mother and her seven children seek shelter in the ruins of their house. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox).

Philippines 19 July 2014. A mother and her seven children seek shelter in the ruins of their house. (Toby Ash/ShelterBox).

The typhoon season in the Philippines returned with a vengeance on 16 July when Typhoon Rammasun (locally known as Glenda) swept through the north of the country leaving 94 people dead, more than 300 injured, and tens of thousands homeless. 

ShelterBox response team members John Cordell (US) and Toby Ash (UK) arrived in the Bicol region, where the typhoon first hit land, on 19 June to carry out a damage assessment. ‘Once again we have seen how the destructive power of these violent storms singles out the poorest and most vulnerable. We found a mother and her seven children eeking out an existence in the ruins of their former home. We found another family sheltering in a bus shelter after the roof of their house was blown away,’ says Ash.

The local government estimates that about 7,000 homes in Bicol were totally destroyed by Rammasun, which packed winds of up to 185 km an hour. ‘We have travelled extensively in and around the city of Legazpi in Albay province, often to quite remote areas,’ adds Ash. ‘The monsoon rains are pouring and we have found families with little or nothing to protect themselves from the elements’.

ShelterBox aims to transport tents and other vitally needed equipment from prepositioned stock in the country to the worst affected areas. A ShelterBox response team led by Owen Smith (NZ) will hopefully travel to Legazpi to coordinate aid distribution. ShelterBox is being assisted in Albay by the Rotary Club of Legazpi, who are providing logistics, warehousing and manpower support.

ShelterBox Aid Arrives For Solomons’ Tsunami Survivors

(RNZAF Boeing 757 being unloaded at Honiara Airport, Solomon Islands)

(RNZAF Boeing 757 being unloaded at Honiara Airport, Solomon Islands)


Relief supplies have begun trickling into tsunami-hit communities in the Solomon Islands, as another powerful aftershock rattled the Pacific nation in the wake of last week’s 8.0-magnitude earthquake.
The New Zealand  High Commissioner Mark Ramsden announced yesterday that “New Zealand is committed to helping a friend and neighbour at a time of need,” Mr Ramsden said.

“These supplies, many of which have been generously donated by New Zealand businesses, will go some way to meeting the needs of people on Santa Cruz who have lost almost everything in the tsunami.”

ShelterBox SRT’s Lyndon Tamblyn and Owen Smith both from New Zealand are now on the ground in Honiara working with our partner World Vision and local Rotarians to get their much needed supplies to families in need.

ShelterBox SRT Lyndon Tamblyn and "Kiwi" colleagues loading ShelterBox tents

ShelterBox SRT Lyndon Tamblyn and “Kiwi” colleagues loading ShelterBox tents


The aid supplies which include ShelterBox tents, blankets, sanitation kits, tarpaulins and water containers have been donated to World Vision by The Warehouse and ShelterBox, and chainsaw packs provided by the New Zealand Government have today been unloaded from the Royal New Zealand AirForce Boeing 757 in Honiara and transferred to the cargo boat M.V. Arnavona which will depart for Santa Cruz this evening.

The number of aftershocks had slowed but not halted aid operations in the remote Santa Cruz islands, where at least 10 people died in the tsunami, triggered by the quake last Wednesday.

The Solomon Islands government has declared the Santa Cruz Islands a disaster area. Aerial surveys indicate most of the damage is confined to the Lata region.

Almost 600 houses are believed to have been destroyed, with most of the destruction caused in the initial earthquake and the metre-high tsunami which swept through coastal areas soon after, leaving more than 3,000 people homeless.




ShelterBox Responds to Cyclone Evan in Fiji

Photograph by NASA - NASA’s Earth Observatory

Photograph by NASA – NASA’s Earth Observatory


A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has arrived in Fiji to assess the need for emergency shelter following Cyclone Evan, the biggest cyclone to strike the Pacific nation in two decades that has left western parts of the main island Viti Levu the hardest hit. 

To enable a rapid response to the disaster, the SRT members Owen Smith and Ross McKenzie are from New Zealand and were on standby to be flown out on the next available flight as soon as the storm passed over Fiji.

The category four storm with winds of over 200 kilometres per hour and heavy rains destroyed homes, caused flash floods and cut power. The Fiji times reported Lautoka, the nation’s second largest city, looking like a ‘war zone’.

Due to advanced government warnings, more than 8,000 people found safety during the cyclone by taking shelter across 137 evacuation centres, according to the Ministry of Information.

ShelterBoxes prepositioned 

There are ShelterBoxes prepositioned in Fiji with Rotarians that the disaster relief charity worked with on its previous response last April to heavy flooding in the same area. ShelterBox will therefore be able to quickly bring shelter and dignity to displaced families in need.

‘We are very concerned by media reports of the destruction in Fiji caused by Cyclone Evan,’ said Owen before the SRT flew out. ‘We are well prepared to respond, however, and will be doing everything we can to deploy ShelterBoxes quickly and effectively.’