Typhoon Haiyan: one man’s courage in the chaos of the storm

Published: 28 November 2013 13:06 CET

By Nichola Jones, IFRC, in Tacloban

Motorcycle taxi driver Marvel Galangue and his family were prepared for Typhoon Haiyan and had moved to a sturdier house in the hope of riding out the storm in safety. But as a wall of water ploughed through the building, Marvel chose to put the lives of his relatives before his own as he fought against the waves and pushed them over a gate and away from the rising water level.

The 28-year-old, who lost his left leg in a boating accident in 2005, said he wasn’t thinking of anything else but his family. “The only thing on my mind was getting everybody out and away from the water,” he said. “I used my crutch to hook on to the gate and I held on so tight.  Then I told the others to climb on me, to scramble up me and over the gate.

“There were seven of us. One of the relatives is heavily pregnant and and there were also children. Debris was flying everywhere but I just held on.”

Marvel and his relatives managed to escape from his aunt’s concrete house and run to a nearby hospital building.  But as they sprinted to the second floor, Marvel says the roof of the building was torn away. “We heard the roof go and the wind come into the building. It was so strong that it was lifting us off our feet so we all huddled together and grabbed onto each other. We stayed like that for three or four hours.

“When the storm passed and I looked outside, everything was destroyed.”

Marvel, his cousins, nieces and nephews are now living in a small shelter by the roadside in Tacloban. The Philippine Red Cross has been able to provide food relief to the family but Marvel’s priority now is the long term.

“We do need food and water but what we really need is a way to build our houses again and a way to earn money,” he said. “I am still traumatised about what Yolanda did to this place.  I never want to experience that again.

“If there is a chance we can have some help now, we will build much stronger houses.”