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Shelter from the storm: Rebuilding after Typhoon Haiyan

Written by Suzanne Charest, communications director for CARE Canada. She travelled to the Philippines to support CARE’s response to Typhoon Haiyan.

A banner across the town hall building in typhoon-hit Albuera reads:

“Hard pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed, perplexed but not hopeless, thank you very much for your wholehearted help.”

On November 28, help arrived in this part of the Philippines in the form of shelter materials—tarps, nails, and tools—for three villages in the municipality of Albuera.

“Although we only had eight casualties, almost all homes were damaged or destroyed in our region,” says Ramon de la Cerna, mayor of Albuera. “The shelter kits from CARE will help the most vulnerable people who are desperately trying to rebuild their homes. We have cleaned the streets since the first day after the storm, but what we really need are the tools to move forward.”

Some three hundred people line up in an outdoor gymnasium in the village of Cambalading to receive assistance from CARE and its local partner ACCORD. Kester de Vera, the team leader from ACCORD, stands perched on a stool explaining to the crowd how to use the shelter kit. A large banner is unfurled behind him that he uses to demonstrate how to properly secure a tarp to a rooftop.

A dozen volunteers, nicknamed the “Power Rangers,” haul the heavy shelter kits from the nearby truck, ripping open the boxes and handing them to recipients once they are checked off the list.

CARE is working with partners to deliver emergency relief to communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Our initial response aims to reach 200,000 people, or 40,000 households, with lifesaving food, shelter and non-food items. CARE is working to not only meet urgent humanitarian needs, but to help communities recover in the months and years to come.

The Government of Canada has contributed greatly to this effort with the gift of much-needed shelter supplies and kitchen sets, coupled with the generous support of $1 million to CARE to provide emergency shelter support to 20,000 female-headed and vulnerable households in Leyte and Southern Leyte.

Albuera is receiving 1,014 shelter kits, 2,028 tarps and 1,000 kitchen sets – pans, utensils, plates – shipped to the Philippines and donated by the Canadian government.

Student volunteers from Manila check each recipient’s name on the beneficiaries’ list. Twenty-one social work and community development students from the University of the Philippines are spending a semester supporting CARE/ACCORD’s emergency relief operations in the region.

Children play with the heaps of plastic string from the boxes and many families also take the plastic packaging from the tarps home.

“I’m so happy because the tarp and the kit will give me shelter,” says Rosario Rieda.

Rosario Rieda, 50, stands smiling with her goods as she waits for a ride to her home. During the typhoon, her house was severely damaged from two fallen coconut trees.

“I’m so happy because the tarp and the kit will give me shelter,” says Rosario. “My family has been sleeping at the church since Haiyan and now we can go home.”

Super Typhoon Haiyan’s powerful winds blew the roof off of Perla Senter’s house. Her family of eight is now safe but live huddled under plastic sheeting stretched over one small room of their home.

“We are so grateful for these goods from Canada because now we can clean up and rebuild our home,” says Perla.

There is a loud round of applause when the distribution ends. It begins to rain heavily when it is over – just another sign that people in Albuera truly need shelter from the storm.


CARE and its partners are responding to the needs of families affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has torn a path across the Philippines, affecting an estimated 13.25 million people. Learn more.