Keith's team provides aid following typhoon
PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 December 2014
A former Exmouth businessman whose community in the Philippines was devastated by a typhoon last year has used the experience to help others after storms returned to the country.
The Journal reported last November how Keith Wakefield, 62 and his Filipino family barely survived Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in his neighbourhood near Tacloban, by sheltering in a shipping container.
After that ordeal, there was great fear earlier this month when forecasters announced that Typhoon Hagupit was heading for the same region.
Fortunately, the damage in Tacloban was much less severe this time, although Keith did see his home’s canvas roof damaged, and lost power and internet for several days.
Worse-hit was the island, where the parents of Keith’s wife Elaine, live. Their home was destroyed, but using the lessons of last year, Keith was able to help them and their neighbours.
He said: “As a result of [the Journal’s] publicity and the help from Exmouth people, in the form of their donations to help us, we were able to help a number of people and families [in 2013].
“This caught the attention of a newly formed charity called DERRT (Disaster Emergency Response and Relief Team).
“I have now been recruited as the charity’s health and safety officer, as well as being the senior team leader for Region Eight, which is spread over three islands and is about the size of Devon and Cornwall.
“It is my job here to create teams in every town and region, to prepare them and train them for any disaster.
“Part of the team I have created here in Tacloban went the 300 miles to Dolores, the worst hit area and where Elaine’s parents live.
“We spent three days there, clearing and making safe the area. We were able to donate a large family tent to Elaine’s parents and food aid to a number of people.”
For more information on the charity, search on Facebook for UK-Philippines DERRT PH Region VIII.