TWO holidaymakers turned relief workers in typhoon-hit Manila today described their continued efforts to help thousands left homeless by the super-storm.
Tim and Chona Marie Harding, of Fulwell, were hoping to spend two weeks visiting family and “the best beaches in the world” when they arrived in the republic’s capital city two days ago.
However, after more than 30 hours of delays to avoid Typhoon Haiyan, they were greeted with sheer devastation on arriving in Manila.
The pair, who met in the Philippines more than 20 years ago, said they were shocked by the scale of the catastrophe.
After offering their services to the country’s Red Cross and British Embassy, the pair say only now is the true scale of the disaster becoming clear.
“Electricity is starting to be restored, and there are plenty of people offering to help with relief work,” said Tim, a workforce and command centre manager for IT company, HP Europe.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel.
“But there aren’t the planes and helicopters to deliver supplies, and there has not been any parachute drops.
“There are 20,000 people on the missing persons list, which gives you some idea of the scale of what has happened.”
Another typhoon was due to hit South-East Asia yesterday, however it was down-scaled to an area of low pressure, but another is expected in the next 72 hours.
Tim, 42, said the optimism given by the restoration of power is dampened by the rising death toll and casualties.
“It’s mixed emotions,” he said. “A lot of help is being received that people are grateful for but there’s a feeling that a lot more could have been done beforehand to prevent what has happened.
“I think it’s been a bit underestimated on an international scale but people are grateful for the help from the international community.”
The British Government has donated £5million to assist with providing temporary shelter and clean drinking water, as well as housing materials worth £600,000, after a national state of calamity was declared in the republic.
The British Red Cross has donated about £100,000 and is appealing for more donations. Tim said there is now concern there could be an outbreak of disease due to the number of corpses left out in the open air.
“There are mass graves being dug in Palo,” said Tim. “Because there is concern there could be an outbreak of fever.
“It’s also about the people who are injured. People have been working nonstop to help everybody.”
Tim and Chona, who have been packing aid parcels, could be deployed to another area at any time.
“We were supposed to be going to Boracay Beach on Monday,” said Tim. “But we don’t know what will be happening now. We will go wherever we are needed.”