Typhoon Haiyan: Coastal town rebuilds six months after Philippines disaster

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By Kesha West

Six months on, the small coastal town of Hernani in the Philippines recovers from super Typhoon Haiyan.

Video: It's six months since typhoon haiyan struck the Philippines, and while much of the media attention in its wake centred on Tacloban, many surrounding towns also felt its fury. (Credit: ABC)

On November 8 last year, the Philippines was hit with what's been described as a "super typhoon" - one of the strongest storms the country has ever seen.

At least 6,000 people lost their lives and entire villages were flattened when Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, hit.

In the small coastal town of Hernani, it was the storm surge after the typhoon that caused the most devastation and deaths.

More than 70 died in the town alone and memories of what happened linger.

Six months on, the community there is rebuilding but the road to recovery is long and slow.

Gerylyn, 15, is a youth leader in her community and since the typhoon she has helped other children in the village recover from the experience.

She and her family survived, but her niece wasn't so lucky.

"I see the waves, how they hit, they splash in our house. I feel the motion, the movement of the house every time the wave hits it," she said.

"I hear the voice of my nieces and my nephew, they are asking for help but we don't have any choice we don't have any stairs to go down to help them.

"The last voice that I had hear was the voice of my niece... sad to say she passed away."

But Gerylyn is optimistic.

"It has a big impact a big change, especially the livelihood and losing my family member, but we know that if we stick together and help each other we can rebuild, we can rise again even though we are back to zero."

Rebuilding lives

Girlie, 37, and her husband took refuge with 50 others on the roof of a nearby house during the typhoon.

"The waves were already downstairs and we were all thinking this is the end of our lives," she said.

Girlie is finally preparing to move out of an emergency tent that's been her home for the past six months.

I see the waves, how they hit, they splash in our house... The last voice that I hear was the voice of my niece. Sad to say she passed away.

With shelter kits provided by aid agency Plan International, her new home now has a roof and will soon have walls.

"At first it's very difficult but as times goes on, of course Philippines really have a strong faith, so until now we are still fighting, surviving," Girlie said.

That faith and resilience is everywhere.

Three hours drive away is Tacloban, one of the areas worst affected by the typhoon.

For some there, returning home will not ever be possible.

"Our old house is under a boat now, so after the typhoon we built a new house over there," one local said.

Cash for work programs have helped many get back on their feet, but people are still struggling.

"We were hoping we could get some money to start up new businesses because we can't sell fish anymore - our capital was washed out with the typhoon," another local said.

Sense of normality returning

Hernani's local school is being rebuilt and make-shift classrooms will soon be replaced by new ones.

Annie Apelado, a teacher at the local school, says not having proper classrooms has made things even harder for the town's children.

"It was very difficult for the students and even the teachers having classes under the heat of the sun, and sometimes suspension of classes because of heavy rains," she said.

Ms Apelado says many of the children are still very traumatised by the typhoon.

"When there is heavy rains they would intend to go home because they are afraid of the rain, the waves, since we are near the Pacific."

Oliver, 15, says things have changed a lot for the children of Hernani - when the school day is over they must help rebuild their homes and find water.

He said he's looking forward to school.

"I am excited about the new school year because of new teacher, new views and new classmates and especially new classrooms."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation