Climate Migration: Filipino families to flee amid typhoons

Nov 16, 2022, 2:22 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2022, 4:37 am
Hyancinth Charm Garing, left, and husband Jeremy, right, play with their month-old daughter inside ...

Hyancinth Charm Garing, left, and husband Jeremy, right, play with their month-old daughter inside their home at a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site three years ago after their village was wiped out when the super typhoon struck in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

              A niece takes care of the daughter of Jeremy Garing in their home in a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. Garing and his family settled there three years ago after their village was wiped out in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jeremy Garing drinks with his neighbors outside their house in Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. Garing and his family settled three years ago in a new community for victims of Typhoon Haiyan after their village was wiped out in 2013, killing six family members and his daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Residents sit on the Leyte tide embankment project in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. The seawall was built to shield coastal villages from possible storm surges like the one during the height of super Typhoon Haiyan that left thousands dead or missing in central Philippines and destroyed homes, agriculture and infrastructure and left thousands homeless. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Tourists pose on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, for a picture on top of the bow of M/V Eva Jocelyn, at the coastal village of Anibong, an area badly hit by super Typhoon Haiyan when it struck the province nine years ago, in Tacloban city, central Philippines. The ship was swept ashore during the height of super Typhoon Haiyan that left thousands dead or missing in central Philippines and destroyed homes, agriculture and infrastructure and left thousands homeless. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Fish vendor and small store owner Emelita Aberilla arranges the table on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022 at her home at the coastal village of Anibong, an area badly hit by super Typhoon Haiyan when it struck the province nine years ago, in Tacloban city, central Philippines. Aberilla chose to remain in their typhoon-struck village despite the dangers it poses and the trauma she endured during Typhoon Haiyan. She said there’s work here and the relocation is too far for her. She lost two granddaughters during the typhoon (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Fish vendor and small store owner Emelita Aberilla reacts as she talks to The Associated Press on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022 at her home in Anibong village, an area badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan when it struck the province nine years ago, in Tacloban city, central Philippines. Aberilla chose to remain in their typhoon-struck village despite the dangers it poses and the trauma she endured during Typhoon Haiyan. She said there’s work here and the relocation is too far for her. She lost two granddaughters during the typhoon. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jeremy Garing cleans a salon in Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. Garing works as a barber to feed his family, now living in a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan after their village was wiped out when it struck on 2013, killing six family members and his daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jeremy Garing cuts the hair of a customer at a salon in Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. Garing works as a barber to feed his family, now living in a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan after their village was wiped out when it struck on 2013, killing six family members and his daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Residents collect water at a relocation site for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Reinfredo Celis poses on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, beside a birthday sign placed by his friends last year in his home at a relocation site for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines. Celis, whose wife and brother died in the typhoon that hit on his birthday, says, "What is painful is I’m now alone.” (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              A man rides his motorcycle past warning signs in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2022. The local government has relocated residents to safer ground after their villages were wiped out during the height of super Typhoon Haiyan that left thousands dead or missing in central Philippines and destroyed homes, agriculture and infrastructure and left thousands homeless. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Kids play during rain at a relocation site for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. About 40% of the population of Tacloban was relocated to safer areas after super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out most of the villages, killing thousands when it hit central Philippines in 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Edwin Decacada tries to salvage materials on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, from the newly demolished house of his brother at the coastal village of Anibong, an area badly hit by super Typhoon Haiyan when it struck the province nine years ago, in Tacloban city, central Philippines. About 40% of the population of Tacloban was relocated to safer areas after super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out most of the villages, killing thousands when it hit central Philippines in 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Flowers lay beside crosses at the mass grave site at the Holy Cross Memorial Garden for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. About 40% of the population of Tacloban were relocated to safer areas after super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out most of the villages, killing thousands when it hit central Philippines on 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Rows of crosses sit at the mass grave site at the Holy Cross Memorial Garden for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. About 40% of the population of Tacloban was relocated to safer areas after super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out most of the villages, killing thousands when it hit central Philippines in 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Hyancinth Charm Garing shows a picture of her husband Jeremy with their year-old baby daughter Hywin during an interview in their home at a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan after their village was wiped out when it struck in 2013, killing six family members and their daughter Hywin. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Oscar Lauzon Villanueva walks beside boats placed on stilts to prepare for an incoming storm in Anibong village, an area badly hit by super Typhoon Haiyan when it struck the province 9 years ago, in Tacloban city, central Philippines on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. Villanueva chose to stay at their typhoon-struck village despite the dangers it poses as he awaits government relocation. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Leyte tide embankment project is seen in Tacloban city, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. The seawall was built to shield coastal villages from possible storm surges like the one during the height of super Typhoon Haiyan that left thousands dead or missing in central Philippines and destroyed homes, agriculture and infrastructure and left thousands more homeless. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jeremy Garing, right, and his wife Hyancinth Charm Garing plays with their daughter in their home in a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site three years ago after their village was wiped out when the super typhoon struck in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jeremy Garing stands outside his house in a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site three years ago after their village was wiped out when the super typhoon struck in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Hyancinth Charm Garing, left, feeds their son during dinner in their home in a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site three years ago after their village was wiped out when the super typhoon struck in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Abandoned homes on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, at the coastal village of Anibong, an area badly hit by super Typhoon Haiyan when it struck the province nine years ago, in Tacloban city, central Philippines. Many residents who survived the deadly super typhoon have been relocated while a few chose to stay because it is nearer to their work. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              A relocation site for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan is seen in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. About 40% of the population of Tacloban were relocated to safer areas after super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out most of the villages, killing thousands when it hit central Philippines in 2013. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Jeremy Garing, right, his wife Hyancinth Charm Garing pose on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022 with their children outside their home at a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site three years ago after their village was wiped out when the super typhoon struck in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
            
              Hyancinth Charm Garing, left, and husband Jeremy, right, play with their month-old daughter inside their home at a new community for victims of super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, central Philippines on Sunday Oct. 23, 2022. Garing and his family settled at a relocation site three years ago after their village was wiped out when the super typhoon struck in 2013, killing six family members and his year-old daughter. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — After Typhoon Haiyan’s towering waves flattened scores of Philippines villages, Jeremy Garing spent days helping with recovery from the historic storm that left more than 7,300 people dead or missing and inflicted billions of dollars in damage.

“I keep helping other people, but then at the end, you find out that all of your family is gone,” Garing said, recalling those terrible times in 2013. “It’s so painful.”

He and his wife Hyancinth Charm Garing lost seven relatives to the typhoon, including parents, siblings and their 1-year-old daughter. Holding up a cell phone photo of her smiling daughter Hywin, the 28-year-old mother still finds it hard to believe she is gone.

Part of the wave of 5 million people displaced by the typhoon, the couple now lives in an inland community about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the coast in a community that was created by the government in response to the death and devastation of Haiyan.

Days after the powerful typhoon, officials knew rebuilding wasn’t an option because the historic storm wouldn’t be the last. They announced a $3.79 billion reconstruction plan that included housing for tens of thousands of storm survivors. They also announced plans to construct a protective dike to shield 33,000 residents from future storms and a 40-meter (130-foot) buffer zone from the shoreline where development is banned.

“It’s safe from flooding. It’s safe from active fault line and it’s far from the coastal area,” said Tedence Jopson, the city housing and community development officer for Tacloban, referring to the new community named Tacloban North.

“Remember because we are talking about climate change, our priority is really moving people away from the danger zone,” he said, adding that the island nation is seeing more frequent typhoons.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series exploring the lives of people around the world who have been forced to move because of rising seas, drought, searing temperatures and other things caused or exacerbated by climate change.

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Rebuilding after the typhoon was a colossal undertaking for an impoverished country that’s seen more than its share of disasters. When the typhoon hit, the country was still recovering from a recent earthquake that struck a nearby island and from a Muslim rebel attack that razed houses.

For months, families lived in tents or homemade shacks as the government struggled to build housing. But over time, authorities built dwellings for up to 16,000 families in several locations, including the Tacloban North community. Nestled in what was once a forested valley, the tidy homes with brick-colored roofs are proving popular with storm survivors.

But many people still pine for their old lives and mourn the loss of loved ones.

Some keep photos of deceased relatives on their phones and are forced to pass a mass grave with rows upon rows of white crosses. A sign at the entrance reads in memory of “the men, women and children who perished and those still missing and … the countless people whose lives were changed forever.”

“Every Friday, I visit the cemetery to light a candle for my wife and don’t forget to pray to the Lord to help us with our daily chores,” said Reinfredo Celis, whose wife and brother died in the typhoon that hit on his birthday. “What is painful is I’m now alone.”

Being forced by climate change to move, within borders or beyond, is a growing reality expected to accelerate in the decades ahead. Over the next 30 years, 143 million people are likely to be uprooted by rising seas, drought, searing temperatures and other climate catastrophes, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published earlier this year by the United Nations.

Though an individual storm cannot be blamed on climate change, studies have found that typhoons are becoming stronger and wetter. In its State of the Climate in Asia 2021 report on Monday, the World Meteorological Organization concluded economic losses from drought, floods and landslides have risen sharply in Asia. Weather- and water-related disasters, the U.N. agency found, affected 50 million people and caused $35.6 billion in damages.

“Weather, climate and water extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in many parts of the world as a result of climate change,” Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO, said in a statement. “We have more water vapor in the atmosphere, which leads to extreme rainfall and deadly flooding. The warming of the ocean fuels more powerful tropical storms, and rising sea levels increase the impacts.”

In coastal villages hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Super Typhoon Yolanda, the damage is still on full display — damaged homes with roofs and walls caved in, foundations of others with only toilets remaining. The government has moved to demolish many of the remaining homes, though a few residents are refusing to relocate.

A cargo ship that washed ashore has become a popular tourist attraction. But Emelita Abillille, a fish vendor in the village of Anibong with her husband and five children, said she cries whenever she sees the ship.

While she would love to move from the disaster zone, she fears she couldn’t make a living in North Tacloban, which has few shops and jobs.

“We are willing to move there,” said Abillille, whose family has been offered a home in the new community. “Our problem is where will we get money for our food? We have to buy water there, food and our transportation. Where will I get the money?”

Jeremy Garing, too, has frustrations with the new community. The 35-year-old hair dresser must make the expensive daily commute to his job in Tacloban, although he bought a motorcycle to make it easier.

The consolation is that he knows his family — including a newborn daughter — will be there when he gets home.

“I really like it here. We will not move anymore. It’s better here,” said Garing, looking over at his sleeping daughter Chiara Mae. “It’s safe.”

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Casey reported from Boston.

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Follow Michael Casey in Twitter: @mcasey1

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Climate Migration: Filipino families to flee amid typhoons