Gerardo Amantillo (74) and Jovita Amantillo (74) survived by clinging onto the roof of a neighbours house. They are photographed at Ormoc pier, where they were queuing for over 30 hours to get a boat off Leyte island. (Photo: Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas)

Gerardo Amantillo (74) and Jovita Amantillo (74) survived by clinging onto the roof of a neighbours house. They are photographed at Ormoc pier, where they were queuing for over 30 hours to get a boat off Leyte island. (Photo: Eoghan Rice – Trócaire / Caritas)

By Eoghan Rice

Filipinos are opening their homes to victims of Typhoon Yolande, giving shelter to people whose houses were destroyed in the devastating storm.

Over 900,000 people are thought to be displaced as a result of last Friday’s typhoon. Many are seeking shelter with friends and family until their own homes can be repaired.

At Ormoc pier on Leyte island, people wait for boats to take them from one of the worst affected islands.

One family, the Baldescos, said that they had decided to leave the island until the situation there improved and while they were gone had allowed neighbours to live in their home.

Others are being supported by family members. Gerardo and Jovita Amantillo (both 74) were at home when Typhoon Yolande struck. Like so many others in the Basey region, they had prepared for strong winds but had not expected the storm to bring in such huge waves.

When more than two metres of water rushed into their house, they were swept away but miraculously managed to survive.

“The water rushed into our house and swept us outside,” said Gerardo. “We managed to grab onto the roof of a neighbour’s house and that is what saved us. We had to hold on to the roof for two hours before the storm ended.”

Their wooden house was destroyed and for the past week they have been staying with neighbours. However, one of their sons lives in an unaffected region of neighbouring Cebu island and they plan on staying with him “probably for the next six months”.

As they prepare to leave behind the island they have called home for decades, the meager few possessions they have with them is a reminder of how much people here lost.

Eoghan Rice is a communications officer for Caritas member Trocaire.