Calm After the Storm: Rebuilding After Yolanda

Text and Photos by Raffy Lerma

A lot has changed since Melvin Castro, a resident of Barangay 88 in Tacloban City, experienced the worst day of his life.

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda, the most powerful storm ever recorded to hit the country, left the provinces of Leyte and Samar in unspeakable devastation. Castro lost 18 family members including his mother, two brothers, a sister and his grandmother when surging waters from the nearby sea wiped out their two-story family house and the rest of Barangay 88. More than 6,000 people died and some 14 million people were effectively displaced by the storm.

Castro was in a state of shock during the first week of the disaster; almost unable to speak of the catastrophe his family went through. In between thinking of where to find food and water during those trying first days, he would burst into tears when reminded of the terrible loss. The pain of losing loved ones and the uncertainty the future posed for him bore a certain kind of anxiety that was hard to describe. Still, Castro was optimistic. He believed that he was alive for a reason.

In what proved to be the most difficult year of his life, Castro managed to rise up from the adversities. After a two-month stint as a construction worker in Manila, he decided to return to Tacloban upon learning that his brother awarded a permanent housing unit from a housing program sponsored by the GMA Kapuso Foundation, National Housing Authority and the Tacloban City Government. After logging in the required 500 hours of labor, the house was finally awarded to their family. Eight months since the devastation, Melvin Castro is beginning to pick up the pieces of his life.

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