Rosemarie can’t help but get emotional as she recalled the day Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) devastated their coastal community in Barangay Mabua, Surigao City on December 2021.
“Taos puso akong nagdadasal na sana Lord, walang masamang mangyari sa mga anak ko. Kasi nagkahiwa-hiwalay kami,” she said. At the onslaught of the typhoon, Rosemarie, her husband, and their eldest daughter was able to seek shelter in a concrete building. But her three other children were with a relative, and she couldn’t help but fear for the worst. She fervently prayed that her children were safe.
Rosemarie felt Odette’s fury even as they sought temporary shelter in a safer place. “Akala namin safe na kami doon, kaya lang nagliparan rin pala yung mga yero. Imbis na tumigil yung bagyo, may ulan at baha pa din,” she recalled.
The magnitude of the typhoon and the fear she felt for her children caused her to faint at one point, but her eldest daughter gave her strength and convinced her to carry on. She said, “Nung time na iyon, nahimatay ako. Hindi ko na alam kung anong nangyari sa akin basta nung nagising nalang ako sabi ng anak ko ‘Mama lakasan mo naman yung loob mo.’”
After the typhoon, Rosemarie was finally reunited with her children. But when they returned to their community, she saw that their entire home was wiped out. “Lahat ng bahay sa tabing-dagat, walang-wala na,” she recalled.
At that point, she lost all hope and didn’t know how to begin again. It was her children that made her realize how blessed they are because even if they lost everything, they made it out alive and are still together. “Hindi lang ako ang nawalan ng bahay, lahat naman kami… Ang importante, buhay kami lahat at magkasama sa hirap at ginhawa,” she said.
Rosemarie Gorgod is only one of 1.5 million individuals in the Caraga region whose lives have been upended by Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) in December 2021. Almost a year later, they continue to work on rebuilding their home and lives. © UNHCR/Martin San Diego
Rosemarie is with UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Atom Araullo in her temporary shelter in Barangay Mabua, a coastal community in Surigao City. She expressed her family’s desire to permanently relocate to a safer place. © UNHCR/Martin San Diego
Thanks to UNHCR donors and partners, Rosemarie’s family and community received solar lamps, shelter-grade tarpaulins, and hygiene kits containing essential items to help them recover after Odette. © UNHCR/Martin San Diego
The climate crisis puts the safety and security of Rosemarie’s family and thousands more like them at great risk, especially during the typhoon season. © UNHCR/Martin San Diego
Almost a year after Odette, Rosemarie and her family continue to work on rebuilding their home and starting afresh. She is grateful for the shelter-grade tarpaulin she received from UNHCR, which reinforces their walls and keeps them safe from the elements. “Nung bagyong sumunod, si Agaton, lumikas na naman kami. Pagbalik namin, akala namin liliparin na pero nandito pa rin hanggang ngayon.”
She also shared that the solar lamp makes them feel safer at night and the mosquito net protects her children from insects and pests.
Rosemarie’s family still live in a makeshift shelter by the coast, and are still unable to permanently relocate to a safer place. With worsening and more unpredictable typhoons brought by the climate crisis, the safety and security of Rosemarie’s family and thousands more like them are at great risk.
On 29 October 2022, Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae (Paeng) caused massive flooding and displaced hundreds of thousands in Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines. Odette and Paeng are only two of the many typhoons that affect the Philippines year after year.
For internally displaced communities that have been forced to flee due to conflict, the climate crisis is an emergency on top of an emergency. Many live in climate vulnerable “hotspots” and are left in complete devastation without stable shelter, adequate food and water supply, and access to essential and protective services.
With your support and in close coordination with the government and humanitarian partners, we can help preposition and deliver life-saving assistance to those who are most affected by the climate crisis.