“We All Hid Under the Table”


Shirley and her family are used to typhoons. When Typhoon Haiyan barreled toward their village of Giporlos in Eastern Samar Philippines, they did what they always do to stay safe. Only this time, the storm was different. She shares this account:

“We went to our neighbors’ house, because it’s built with concrete. That’s what we’ve always done when typhoons come. My sister carried me there (because I am a polio survivor), and we waited for it to pass. But this time the wind was so strong that it barely resisted. We all stayed under a wooden table, holding on to it so that it didn’t fly away with everything else. The roof was torn away, parts of the walls collapsed; it was so scary.

“When it stopped, we saw that nothing was left around us, just debris of houses and fallen trees. Our house is completely destroyed, our crops too. My family grows cassava and bananas, and it is all gone. We will try to rebuild, but we have no money and we won’t be able to harvest anything for a year.”

For now, Shirley and her family are all staying near the remains of their neighbor’s house. They have assembled a few pieces of wood and some corrugated iron sheets collected in the debris to protect themselves from the rain.