“Water poured through the windows. It was terrifying.”

Publié: 14 novembre 2013 16:12 CET

By Johanna Lassy-Mäntyvaara, Finnish Red Cross in Cebu

Mary Jane Ortega, 15, rushed to the evacuation centre – a sports hall – to find shelter just before typhoon Haiyan hit her community.

“When the storm hit, water poured through the windows and part of the roof collapsed. It was terrifying,” she says.

Five days later, Mary and her family are still living in the evacuation centre. The Philippine Red Cross has distributed water and food to the survivors, who are also receiving some support from the local authority and other organizations. A local nurse and midwife sit at the hall entrance with a first aid kit.

During the night, the survivors are restless. People are coughing and children are crying, and when heavy rain begins to fall, puddles begin to form on the floor of the hall. At dawn, workers and volunteers from local municipality come to clean the floor. They try their best to keep the conditions bearable – but broken glass, mud and dirt still remain everywhere.

Chona Almadin, city midwife, looks around the hall with deep concern. “We need more basic medicines here,” she says. “Many children are coughing, some have fever.  Respiratory diseases tend to spread fast in poor living conditions.”

In the hall, Mary is still smiling in spite of her traumatic experience and the difficult conditions in the evacuation centre.

“I slept okay,” she says.

However, the young girl cannot hide her worries for the future. Her family home has been destroyed, with only the walls still standing, and her father – a fisherman – lost his boat and now cannot work. Her school was also damaged by the typhoon.

“The school is supposed to start again next week even though there is no roof on the building. Maybe we’ll study outside,” she says.

The family does not know when their home will be rebuilt, as new rains are forecast and no building materials are available. Bogo municipality has promised to support the communities with a reconstruction programme but no timeline has been confirmed. For now, Mary – and countless others like her – will have to wait.

More information about the Typhoon Hiayan response