Belfast Telegraph

Typhoon Haiyan: I just need to get back home, says Belfast man who lost father storm

By Victoria O’Hara

A Belfast man whose father died in Typhoon Haiyan has spoken of being overwhelmed by the generosity and support he has received from people in Northern Ireland.

As reported in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Rick Lapuz (42), who lives in east Belfast but was born in Tacloban — which the storm devastated — said he was heartbroken to learn he had missed his father's funeral.

Now the father-of-one is determined to find a way to raise the money to return to his home country within a month.

“I am concerned about what I will see there but it is better to see it for myself rather than being worried day and night here,” he said.

“It would be much better if I could see for myself.”

Rick, who has four other brothers and a sister living in the city hit by the natural disaster, said he is constantly worried for his surviving family members.

“I have a lot of good memories from there. My own concern is my family and friends back there — how they are doing at the minute, because it is just like a ghost town.

“I just need to get back. I know it will be difficult but I just have to do it. I hope to get back in December — it will be hard but I’m going to try.”

He said he needs to go and support his family.

“The one brother I have managed to talk to I know is just trying to protect me and not telling me how bad it really is.

“I asked him if the house was still there or if the roof has gone but he won’t tell me.

“I know he is just trying to stop me from worrying but I can’t help it.”

Rick said since he learnt of the death of his father Rudy Lapuz people have shown great support.

Mr Lapuz was rushed to hospital four weeks ago with lung problems.

The 79-year-old's condition stablised, but he was reliant on a machine to help him breathe.

After a 20ft wave hit the city, the electrics in the hospital failed.

The machines keeping Rick's father alive stopped working and he did not survive.

Rick, who works at a KFC restaurant in Belfast, said he has received great support from friends and co-workers.

“What people have said and done is just really great,” he said.

“My work colleagues have supported me when I was just too upset.

“There were times when I just wanted to cry and cry. It means a lot to have them.”

Having lived here for 10 years with his wife May, who is a nurse, he said he has been humbled by the response from people across Northern Ireland to donate aid for the disaster zone.

“My wife works in the Ulster Hospital and they have been receiving so many donations. The people here are just so generous.

“But I just know in my own heart I have to return to Tacloban. I need to see it for myself.”

Northern Ireland digs deep to help as plight touches hearts

People across Northern Ireland are continuing to show huge generosity by raising £407,000 in three days to help the disaster struck Philippines.

Aid is being donated at a massive rate with hundreds of charity events throughout the country.

The British Red Cross confirmed Northern Ireland raised £160,000 towards the Disasters Emergency Committee's (DEC) Philippines Typhoon Appeal in just 24 hours.

Within 48 hours that almost tripled. The overall UK total to date is £3m.

The latest death toll issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is 3,621.

The UN, however, put the number of dead at 4,460.

Officials said it was likely more bodies would be found as aid teams reached outlying areas.

Meanwhile, a range of fundraising events have been organised to continue to collect and send vital aid in Northern Ireland.

Belfast City Council together with the local Filipino community, Belfast Health Trust and aid organisations have organised a major charity day on November 29 to raise money for the survivors.

They are encouraging everyone to raise and donate money to the appeal which will be managed by local aid agencies, including Tearfund, a member of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) and Trocaire. In north Belfast a week long sit-out collection will be launched today by the DUP’s William Humphrey, along with the Deputy Lord Mayor Alderman Christopher Stalford and the High Sheriff Councillor Brian Kingston.

A wide range of local groups have pledged their support.

Mr Humphrey said: “We know that the Filipino community in Northern Ireland makes a significant contribution to society here, particularly in the health sector.

“This appeal is one way that we can show our appreciation and provide urgently needed finance for the disaster relief and aid operation.”

Collections are also ongoing in hospitals across the country.

 To make a donation to the appeal visit www.dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office, or send a cheque.

You can donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.

Aid appeal for victims |now totals over £30m

By Laurence Dodds andNeil Lancefield

More than £30m has been raised by the Typhoon Haiyan charity appeal in just three days, the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has revealed.

The alliance of 14 UK aid charities said its total had shot up from £23m as the public responded to the disaster, which has left thousands dead and many more homeless in the Philippines.

The funds will be used to deliver food, water and sanitation equipment, household items and building materials to rebuild essential infrastructure.

DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “We are so grateful to the people of the UK for their generosity to date.

“The DEC member agencies and their partners are working on the ground to deliver essential aid.

“But the needs are so great, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced. People desperately need the basics of food, water and shelter. Money raised will go to delivering these essentials.”

The typhoon a week ago devastated nine regions, with the country's national Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre counting 2,357 killed and 3,853 injured.

Yesterday morning an RAF cargo plane carrying heavy duty vehicles and medical supplies left RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire as part of Britain's emergency response to the disaster.

The aircraft is due to land in the Philippines by this morning.

Speaking at Brize Norton, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “We have got to work with them to try and make sure that we provide the humanitarian support to the people on the ground now, and then work with them to try and get their infrastructure back up and running.”

The Philippines government has defended its efforts to deliver aid.

Interior secretary Mar Roxas said: “In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough.”

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