Typhoon hits home

Maria Nazareth has scoured the news for information about the impact of the typhoon on her family.Picture: Bruce Hunt d411464
Maria Nazareth has scoured the news for information about the impact of the typhoon on her family.Picture: Bruce Hunt d411464

Amid the utter devastation of flattened buildings, crumbled roads and dead bodies in the capital city of Leyte province in the Philippines were two of her aunties, her 80-year-old grandfather and 10 of her cousins.

The city where Mrs Nazareth (31) grew up and had loved to shop and dine out resembled ‘a big mess’ of debris she could not comprehend.

Panic began to set in as footage of the survivors of typhoon Haiyan, which hit the city on November 8 leaving more than 10,000 dead, flooded her TV screen.

Then there were the reports of the ever-increasing death toll.

‘I knew a typhoon was coming but I had no idea how destructive it would be,’ Mrs Nazareth, who lives in Stratton and works in Midland, said.

‘I lived there for 26 years; we had typhoons all the time. If I had have known how bad it was going to be I would have tried to do something earlier.’

Mrs Nazareth frantically tried to make contact with her family but could not reach them, with most of the province’s communications system knocked out by the fury of the storm.

Eventually she was able to make contact with her distraught sister and uncles in Manila, who had heard relatives in Tacloban were still alive but in serious need of help.

‘The roads out of the city have all been destroyed, making it almost impossible for them to get out or for aid to reach them,’ she said.

‘There are no houses left with power or water. They’re all sleeping on the ground and my grandfather and cousins are getting sick because of all the dead bodies lying around.

‘I feel awful because I’m safe here and they have nothing. My body is here but my mind is there… sometimes I just can’t think.’

Despite the United Nations, agencies and charities trying to scramble together a major international relief effort, much of the aid is not reaching many places in Leyte, including the outskirts of Tacloban, where Mrs Nazareth’s family lived.

‘They live in small, basic, one-room houses on the outskirts of the city. When I was young I remember having to share one blanket with my cousins’