New Homes for Thousands of Typhoon Survivors in the Philippines

Typhoon Survivors

Thousands of people are moving into new homes in the aftermath of Typhoon Juan in the Philippines. Photo by Morena Balmes / CRS

Lanie Caguiat appeared shell-shocked when a Catholic Relief Services team talked to her in October 2010. She and her family had just survived Typhoon Juan, but her home was wiped out by strong winds and nothing was left standing.

In the northern Philippines, the storm left tens of thousands of homes damaged across a region called Ilagan. The poorest families suffered most: their fragile homes, often made of bamboo and palm leaves, were the ones most frequently destroyed. In a matter of hours, the tremendous rains and powerful winds also damaged soon-to-be harvested crops, toppled electrical posts, and made roads impassable.

With the local Catholic diocese, CRS immediately began talking to survivors and working on housing plans. With support from Latter-day Saints charities, CRS and the diocese provided small homes called “transitional shelters” for 660 families hit by the typhoon. CRS designed the low-cost shelters of 172 square feet to be built in 3-5 days. For larger families, the project provided somewhat bigger models. The program also trained 154 skilled and unskilled laborers in typhoon-resistant shelter design.

The transitional shelter has a light foundation, concrete flooring, a timber frame, galvanized iron sheeting for the roof, and plywood walls. The structure is durable enough that families can build a stronger house based on the frame, or move the structure.

In some cases, beneficiaries are able to salvage old materials to re-use as internal walls and outdoor kitchens. Lanie, for example, gathered some metal roofing sheets from her family’s original, 120- square foot home. Her extended family gave her a small plot of land to build on, and with the assistance of CRS and the diocese, she built her transitional house using the typhoon-resistant design.

Lanie’s strong spirit and positive outlook helped her pick up the pieces after the storm. She is hopeful that, this time, her home can withstand whatever storm may come her way. “I can still smile,” she says, “because there are people like you who offer us help and give us hope.”

Compiled from field reports gathered by Dina Fortich

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