SAFE: Santiago Sinsuan, of the Philippines, visited the Tweed for surf life saving training in October and is now in action helping at home.
SAFE: Santiago Sinsuan, of the Philippines, visited the Tweed for surf life saving training in October and is now in action helping at home. Contributed

Filipino surf life saver safe after typhoon

READERS may remember the recent article on a Red Cross training officer on exchange to Cudgen Surf Club.

Santiago Sinsuan III learnt much about lifesaving during his five weeks here on the Tweed but nothing prepared him for the situation he found himself in shortly after returning to Cebu.

Cebu lies due west of the islands of Samar and Leyte where Typhoon Haiyan came roaring ashore last Friday.

As the Philippine Red Cross mobilised last week to meet the threat posed by the super storm, Santiago, as an expert in disaster response, was on the front line.

After the storm hit and the terrible toll of life became apparent, David Field and his friends at Cudgen grew anxious when they lost all communication with Santiago.

Days passed then a quick word via Facebook arrived to report he was okay, but fully committed and mourning the loss of so many people.

Santiago Sinsuan with Russell Zahn, who sponsored Santiago's trip to Australia in October.
Santiago Sinsuan with Russell Zahn, who sponsored Santiago's trip to Australia in October. Contributed

His favourite dive island of Malapasqua had been devastated.

And then on Tuesday these messages arrived via Facebook from Santiago and his wife, also a volunteer with the Red Cross:

"David we are all safe here in Cebu. We are here in Bantayan Island to make a rapid assessment. Santiago will tell you in details.

"We will be transporting two spinal injury patients as soon as the ambulance will arrive.

"Thanks to all, been busy conducting rapid assessment to the northern municipalities of Cebu. We have few casualties compared to other places but, when it comes to properties, almost all their houses were destroyed. Water and power are not in place until now."

The task before the Filipino people is immense and recovery from the disaster will take months.

Australian aid in the past has sought to assist the Philippines become more equipped to withstand natural disasters but the scale of devastation wrought by Haiyan, named locally as Typhoon Yolanda, was beyond the ability of communities to cope.

Critically now food, water and shelter must be provided for the hundreds of thousands who have lost everything.



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