Typhoon survivor Keith frustrated by slow progress

PUBLISHED: 11:23 30 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:23 30 January 2014

Keith Wakefield, who has had a miraculous escape from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Keith Wakefield, who has had a miraculous escape from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Archant

A former Exmouth businessman who was caught in the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan has thanked his supporters for their help in allowing him to start rebuilding.

However, Keith Wakefield says he is still facing a struggle to live day-to-day, and to achieve his ambition of rebuilding his language school.

Keith, who lives with wife Elaine and four members of her family in Palo on Leyte in the Philippines, where he moved six years ago, has previously told of how they survived the November typhoon in a shipping container he used to transport his belongings from the UK, emerging to find their community totally devastated.

Nearly three months on from the disaster, Keith has managed to make some improvements to his home, but there is a long way to go before he and his neighbours can return to anything like normality.

He explained: “We have managed to construct a wood and canvas structure around the container, keeping the container as the central part for safety reasons, just in case.

“We had the fallen coconut trees on our land cut into beams to construct the roof, and covered this with canvas we managed to get from American aid. The canvas was four metres by 60 metres so there was plenty left over, so we were able to help others with their roofing problems.

“We also managed to get a large canvas tent from German aid. It is a bit like Swiss Family Robinson, making and mending from the wreckage.

“We are luckier than most that have nothing. Until January 24, it rained every day here, most days torrential rain, so this has hampered everyone’s efforts to rebuild even basic shelter.

“Most of where we live has still not got any power. We are the only ones in our area with any form of power. Every time our neighbours hear the generator go on they come round for us to charge up their rechargeable torches and mobile phones.

“As for food and good drinking water we are in the same boat as everyone else. The small amount of supplies etc, that we managed to bring back from the island of Cebu did not last long and it depleted our resources considerably. Some of the larger stores are now partially open but food prices are inflated. Not all is available.”

Keith continues to be frustrated at the slow speed of distribution of international aid in his area, for which he blames incompetence by officials and point-scoring among politicians.

However, money raised for Keith directly by the people of Exmouth has got through to him, allowing him to cover most of his family’s essential needs since the disaster and help the people around him.

He said: “The £1,000 raised by the kind people of Exmouth was a great help in covering these costs. We were able to help more people because of this and we will continue to help those in need as best we can.”

Keith now hopes to rebuild his English Language Academy, which is currently conducting lessons with no electricity, and says he would appreciate a £1,000 loan to move it into a more suitable building, which could also be used as a base to distribute aid.

Donations to assist Keith’s work in his community can be paid into the ELA Typhoon Relief Fund account at the Exmouth branch of Nationwide, sort code 070246, account number 42754563.

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