People of Tapaz Express Gratitude for our Help
The first round of HOPE volunteers, who began arriving last week, have been greeted with warm appreciation that has been unabashedly public.
Olivia Glory was not far away when the church collapsed. From her home on the next hillside over, she could see it from her front windows. It was a small building, maybe 15′ x 30′, and so new that it had not yet received a coat of paint. But it was cinderblock and to her husband Roberto Glory it seemed like the safest place to take refuge as typhoon Haiyan approached on November 8.
But while Roberto sheltered with the couple’s children in a neighbor’s concrete house, the strongest storm to ever make landfall in recorded history roared directly through the tiny rural farming town. Winds clocked at over 160 mph sent roofs flying as flash floods took out bamboo homes in minutes. Because the winds hit low to the ground, even the smallest shrubs were uprooted.
The little Catholic church collapsed, crushing Roberto and his eight-year-old nephew, who he had been cradling in his arms. The boy died immediately. Roberto was conscious but bleeding heavily. Olivia could hear his screams from the neighbor’s home. But because the roads were completely blocked by fallen trees and live power lines, he never made it the few miles to the hospital. Roberto passed away within sight of his home.
The Philippines is the most-exposed large country in the world to tropical cyclones, but this one topped them all. According to the U.N., about 11 million people were affected. The national casualty count has been estimated at over 5,700, making it the deadliest ever. And the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimates over $800 million in damages in the country.
While the worst of the destruction centered on the more urban Tacloban, where the storm passed first and more fiercely, the Tapaz area, on an island just west of Tacloban, was also nearly flattened. Project HOPE targeted the Tapaz region because it had not yet received international relief.
The first round of HOPE volunteers, who began arriving last week, have been greeted with warm appreciation that has been unabashedly public. Professionally painted signs began popping up around town within days of the volunteers starting their work in the hospital and clinic: “Welcome Project HOPE and thank you!” read one. On Sunday, two hundred children and a clown attended a special “giving thanks” party hosted by two prominent local families, the Arcans and Samaniegos. Members of the family confirmed that there has been no international medical NGO help in the area for at least the past 30 years. On the gate in front of the home a new banner had been hung. It read, “Thank you volunteers from all over the world. We will never forget you. –the people of Tapaz.”