Filipino community in Fermoy reach out to typhoon victims in their homeland
The hopes and prayers of a Filipino woman, who has made her home in Fermoy, were centred on her homeplace of Palompon this week, where members of her family were still missing following last Friday's deadly typhoon.
Marie Tobin, married to local community activist Joe Tobin, has uncles, aunts and cousins missing from her father's side of her family in the municipality of Palompon, on the west coast of Leyte province. Many relatives on her mother's side of the family were also reported missing but they've since had good news about them.
Six people have been confirmed dead in the municipality which has a population of some 45,000. A thousand people were reported injured there and many are missing.
The coastal area, where the main activities are fishing and rice growing, was ravaged by the typhoon. Marie has learned that 95% of the houses in her homeplace have been destroyed or badly damage, leaving many people homeless. Outlying areas were also badly affected.
In the province of Leyte alone, provincial officials say they fear up to 10,000 people perished. Many drowned from the massive storm surges that flooded the region. Relief aid had still not reached them by midweek.
Marie and her sister Arlene Mahony, who lives in Tralee, have spent a sleepless few days worrying about their missing relatives. "We haven't slept, we just feel so sorry for them there, we feel their pain," Arlene said. They have four brothers but luckily they are all living in Manila.
Both women visited their homeplace in July this year. Now they are upset and concerned about its destruction and such a huge loss of life. Locals knew the storm was coming but were said to have been taken by surprise at the severity of it.
While Arlene is joining with the Filipino community in Tralee to see what they can do to help, in Fermoy initiatives are also underway. Joe Tobin said a non-uniform day has been organised at Bishop Murphy Memorial national school, which their son and another Filipino boy attends, to raise funds. It'll be held this Friday and Joe is appealing to parents to support it and also to other schools to do similar.
Local businessman and town councillor Noel Barnes, whose wife Juliet is from the capital, Manila, are also doing their bit, having organised bucket collections with the kind permission of SuperValu and Centra supermarkets and some other business premises in the town.
While grateful that her family are away from the main areas of devastation, Juliet feels huge empathy for the families who have lost family members, have seen their homes destroyed and are now in such difficult circumstances awaiting aid.
Noel has a friend there who has a number of staff missing from a guide centre he operates and are feared to have been washed out to sea.
Thursday 14th November 6:27pm