Relief for Mull couple after super typhoon

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A Mull couple aiding an island community hit by Typhoon Odette before Christmas have described the ongoing devastation, and appealed for your help.

Andrew Fuller, senior associate at Oban estate agent Bell Ingram, flew to the Philippines with his wife Gerlie to assist the aid effort in her home island called Sibanac in the Dinagat region.

Gerlie’s village, alongside with 10,000 others, lay in the direct path of the 600km wide super typhoon, the strongest storm in 2021, when it made landfall on December 16, battering coastal communities with 240 km/h winds, wrecking houses, shops, banks and hospitals.

Typhoon Odette was the third Category 5 storm to hit the Philippines in the past two years; the second in 2021. More than 300,000 people were evacuated ahead of landfall and millions were affected.

The fate of Gerlie’s family was unknown as the couple waited in quarantine in the Philippines’ captial city of Manila after the category five storm tore down communication lines, and landslides, fallen trees, and debris left most roads impassable.

They feared the worst, but ‘thankfully Gerlie’s family is safe and well and focused on helping the effort to help the less fortunate in her village,’ Andrew told The Oban Times.

Many have not been so lucky: the nationwide death toll climbed to more than 400 at New Year.

‘There is a dwindling supply of food and water, and not much shelter left across the region,’ Andrew wrote on their Justgiving crowdfunding website, Help Dinagat. ‘This is why I urgently and humbly ask for everyone’s help. Dinagat needs staple food, potable water, temporary shelters, fuel, hygiene kits, and medical supplies.

‘There are so many people needing the basics – materials to put a roof over their heads for one,’ he told The Oban Times. ‘Our modest target will help around 30 families in Gerlie’s village.’

In another update, Andrew said: ‘Tatang’s modest house is yet another property devastated by the Typhoon.

‘She described the moment when the typhoon struck, saying that she was scared that one of the coconut trees would fall on the house and hurt her family. When we met her, she’d just constructed a makeshift shelter from bits of damaged tin sheet and some tarpaulin. She will have to live like this until she has enough money to reroof her house.’

A second photograph shows the Rogillo family on December 29, trying to escape the rain in their hastily made shelter, using materials salvaged from their house. ‘The whole family stays in there and it contains everything precious to them,’ he said.

The Rogillo family trying to escape the rain in their hastily made shelter using materials salvaged from their house.

‘There is a constant sound of metal sheets scraping and banging, with many shards of sharp metal still being blown around. The village jetty, a lifeline, was simply washed away. At night, the sound of generators fills the air. People desperate to charge mobile phones and power a few lightbulbs.

‘I especially and humbly request that those people back at our home on the Isle of Mull, a close island community who welcomed us both with open arms, can find a way to join and support our efforts to provide direct help to another small island community in desperate need.’