A Wrexham nurse who narrowly escaped being caught up in a typhoon that killed a 1,000 people in the Philippines has launched a fund-raising campaign to help survivors.
Arlene Elana was on her way home for a holiday when Typhoon Sendong struck, causing flash floods and landslides that devastated the town of San Francisco, in Agusan del Sur province, where she was brought up.
Now she and her colleagues at the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham are rallying round to raise much-needed cash by holding a sponsored silence and other activities to help the area, where thousands remain hungry and homeless, return to normality.
According to Arlene, the typhoon left a trail of destruction through her family’s town although, thankfully, her own relatives, and those of her husband, survived.
She said: “My mum, sisters and and brother still live there. We set off from Wrexham for the long journey back to the Philippines and it was while we were actually travelling that the typhoon struck.
“To see what has happened to such a beautiful place is awful. I also visited Cagayan de Oro, the capital of my home province, and it is also terrible to see the devastation that has been caused.
“It isn’t so much the actual typhoon, it’s the mud slides and flooding that follows. The death toll is now well over 1,000 people and many children have been orphaned. It is terrible to see so many homeless children wandering around.”
“It was heartbreaking to witness such devastation. The Filipino government is now looking at where they can relocate people so they can move them away from the worst hit areas.”
Arlene and her husband, Armingol, who also works at Pendine Park as a care supervisor, took their two boys with them to the Philippines to visit their respective families.
Her eldest son, who is now 14, was born in the Philippines while her youngest son, who is just six, was born in Wrexham. They stayed in the Philippines for five weeks returning on January 21st.
Arlene said: “In a way I am glad I went home when I did otherwise I would be worried sick about my mum and the rest of our families. At least I know they are all right and, other than a bit of roof damage and trees blown over in their gardens, they are fine.
“However, I can’t stop thinking about all the children who are now orphaned and are without homes. That’s why I have decided to try and raise some money to send back home in the hope it can help the relief effort.”
She added: “I have started a collection and we are looking at what else we can do. Perhaps a sponsored walk or swim. My colleagues here at Pendine Park are very supportive and have already said they want to help me raise some much-needed funds.”
Bodlondeb Manager Ann Chapman said: “Arlene is a wonderful and dedicated nurse and she, and her colleagues, are determined to help her raise some funds to support the people of her homeland following the devastation caused by Typhoon Sendong.
“Anything we can do to help we will. We will come up with other fund raising ideas after the sponsored silence.
“In the meantime Arlene has started a collection so she can send what she can in support of the international effort.”