When Super Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines on Friday, Lourdes Hermilda had been with her husband and two children, counting down the days until the birth of their new baby, and hoping the storm wouldn’t be as bad as predicted.
But within minutes, her world changed: terrifying wind from one of the worst storms on record tore buildings to shreds, and a massive storm surge wiped out entire houses – and hospitals.
Lourdes was separated from her husband and children. On Friday night, in the dark and in the rain, she went into labour, alone.
She made it to the hospital, but it was closed – damaged by the storm.
She managed to walk to the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish, an evacuation centre where more than 300 people had taken shelter from the storm, and which had thankfully survived the worst of the disaster. At the entrance to the church, and with help from people inside, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
She named her Yolanda – the local name for the typhoon.
Lourdes found her husband and two other children, and they are now staying in the church with dozens of other families who also lost their homes. They hope to travel to Ormoc City, where they have family, and where aid is slowly starting to arrive by boat.
Lourdes says that they want to leave Tacloban because there is nothing left for them there. But amidst the ruins of their city, where thousands of people are estimated to have died, baby Yolanda is a small sign of hope.
CARE Australia has launched a global emergency appeal to raise $5 million to help people like Lourdes and her family.
An estimated 11.5 million people –the entire populations of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra combined have been affected by the Typhoon across nine regions in the Philippines.
2.5 million people are in need of food assistance and there is an urgent need to provide temporary shelter for the more than 600,000 people who have been displaced.
Everything is destroyed. All the houses along the coast are completely flattened. Further inland, about 80 percent of the houses are roofless.
It seems like everyone we’ve seen has a hammer or tools in their hands, trying to repair their houses and their roofs. People are picking up poles and pieces of wood from the street.
CARE has launched an appeal to urgently provide those affected with water, food and shelter. A donation of just $26 can provide food baskets for a family or $32 can provide materials for emergency shelter. To donate, please visit www.care.org.au or call 1800 020 046.
Sandra Bulling is Communications Officer for CARE International. She has been deployed to emergencies and crises including the Syrian refugee crisis, Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, as well conflicts in Kyrgyzstan and South Sudan.