Filipino families flee amid typhoons

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — After the towering waves of Typhoon Haiyan leveled dozens of Philippine villages, Jeremy Garing spent days recovering from the historic storm that left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and caused billions of dollars in damage .

“I keep helping other people, but at the end you find out your whole family is gone,” Garing said, recalling those horrible times in 2013. “It’s so painful.”

He and his wife Hyancinth Charm Garing lost seven family members to the typhoon, including parents, siblings, and their 1-year-old daughter. The 28-year-old mother holds up a mobile phone photo of her smiling daughter Hywin and still finds it hard to believe she’s gone.

Part of the wave of 5 million people displaced by the typhoon, the pair now live in an inland community about 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) from the coast in a community set up by the government in response on Haiyan’s death and devastation.

Days after the powerful typhoon, officials knew rebuilding was not an option because the historic storm would not be the last. They announced a $3.79 billion reconstruction plan, including housing for tens of thousands of storm survivors. They also announced plans to build a protective levee to protect 33,000 residents from future storms and a buffer zone 40 meters (130 feet) from the shoreline where development is prohibited.

‘It is safe from flooding. It is safe from active fault lines and it is far from the coastal area,” said Tedence Jopson, the city housing and community development officer for Tacloban, referring to the new community called Tacloban North.

“Remember, because we’re talking about climate change, our priority is to really get people out of harm’s way,” he said, adding that the island nation is seeing typhoons more often.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series about the lives of people around the world forced to relocate because of rising seas, drought, scorching temperatures and other things caused or exacerbated by climate change.

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Reconstruction after the typhoon was a colossal undertaking for an impoverished country that has experienced plenty of disasters. When the typhoon hit, the country was still recovering from a recent earthquake that hit a nearby island and from an attack by Muslim rebels that leveled houses.

For months, families lived in tents or home-made huts as the government struggled to build housing. But over time, authorities built homes for as many as 16,000 families in various locations, including the community of Tacloban North. Nestled in what was once a wooded valley, the tidy houses with brick-colored roofs are proving popular with storm survivors.

But many people still pine for their old life and mourn the loss of loved ones.

Some save photos of deceased relatives on their phone and have to pass a mass grave with rows upon rows of white crosses. A sign at the entrance reads in memory of “the men, women and children who lost their lives and those who are still missing and … the countless people whose lives have been changed forever.”

“Every Friday I visit the cemetery to light a candle for my wife and don’t forget to pray to the Lord to help us with our daily chores,” said Reinfredo Celis, whose wife and brother died in the typhoon that hit him. hit. birthday. “What’s painful is that I’m alone now.”

Being forced by climate change to move, within borders or beyond, is a growing reality that is expected to accelerate in the coming decades. According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published by the United Nations earlier this year, 143 million people are likely to be uprooted over the next 30 years by rising seas, drought, scorching temperatures and other climate catastrophes.

While an individual storm cannot be attributed to climate change, studies have shown that typhoons are getting stronger and wetter. In its State of the Climate in Asia 2021 report on Monday, the World Meteorological Organization concluded that economic losses from droughts, floods and landslides have spiked in Asia. Weather and water-related disasters, the UN agency found, affected 50 million people and caused $35.6 billion in damage.

“Weather, climate and water extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in many parts of the world due to climate change,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement. “We have more water vapor in the atmosphere, leading to extreme rainfall and deadly flooding. Ocean warming is making tropical storms more powerful, and rising sea levels are exacerbating the impact.”

In coastal villages hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Super Typhoon Yolanda, the damage is still fully visible: damaged houses with collapsed roofs and walls, foundations of others with only toilets left. The government has decided to demolish many of the remaining houses, although a few residents refuse to move.

A washed up freighter has become a popular tourist attraction. But Emelita Abillille, a fishmonger in Anibong village with her husband and five children, says she cries when she sees the ship.

Although she would love to move out of the disaster area, she fears she won’t be able to make a living in North Tacloban, where shops and jobs are few.

“We are willing to move there,” says Abillille, whose family has been given a home in the new community. “Our problem is where to get the money for our food? We have to buy water, food and our transportation there. Where do I get the money?”

Jeremy Garing is also frustrated with the new community. The 35-year-old barber has to make the expensive daily commute to work in Tacloban, though he’s bought a motorcycle to make it easier.

The comfort is knowing that his family – including a newborn daughter – will be there when he gets home.

“I really like it here. We will not move again. It’s better here,” Garing said, looking at his sleeping daughter, Chiara Mae. “It’s safe.”

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Casey reported from Boston.

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Follow Michael Casey on Twitter: @mcasey1

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The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage is supported by several private foundations. Read more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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