“When the cyclone came, my brother Jessie, went to the evacuation centre, that is where he died”.
James is now looking after his brothers family of five.
His story is common among the survivors of super cyclone Pablo, that hit Mindanow on the 4th of December 2012.
Many people went to the evacuation centres, schools, municipal gyms and day care centres. This is where the majority of the 1000 thousand deaths happened, as the buildings had no chance of standing up to the force of Cyclone Pablo.
James had the foresight to ignore the government advice of going to the evacuation centre, and decided to took after his family at home.
The storm was more powerful than anyone imagined. It made land fall at 00.15 smashing its way into Baganga, and headed west, leaving in its wake a path of destruction, buildings crushed like aluminium cans, and coconut trees ominously all lying flat pointing to the cyclones path.
By 05.00 it was still unsafe for the residents of Baganga to leave what ever shelter or protection had saved there lives. The inhabitants of Ban ao, spent a terrifying night holding there loved ones close, and praying for protection.
“I told my family to hide under the table in our home”, says James. “Our home was totally destroyed”.
James and his family survived the night, despite debris flying through the air. “Once the roof was ripped off our home, the table we were hiding under went flying through the air”.
When it was safe to do so, James took his family up into the hills and told them to take shelter behind a large tree, as he went to find help. It is on his way to look for medicine for his mother and children that he found out about his brother and his brothers son were among those that perished in the Ban ao municipal gymnasium.
Now James is rebuilding his life with his family, and the family of his brother Jessi. “One of the first things we needed was shelter, the children wee becoming ill, and we didn’t know what to do, disaster aid international was the first NGO that c Mae to us to help, we are so great full, and my family is so happy now”.