Philippine orphans fled from room to room to escape sea surge

Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:38am EST
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By Nathan Layne

PALO, Philippines (Reuters) - Officials at an orphanage in the Philippines say they feel blessed that not one child was harmed by one of the biggest typhoons the world has known, even though it reduced most surrounding structures to rubble.

Dolores Baculanta, 49, said she was getting ready to bathe the children, of pre-school age, when she heard cries for help from the nursery in the coastal town of Palo. The roof was buckling under strong winds, with 12 toddlers inside.

Helped by 60-year-old security guard Oscar Macaray, she and another caregiver put the toddlers into two cribs and rushed them to a nearby office.

When that room's roof began to crumble, they moved the cribs into the hall.

"It was very dangerous because the wind was so strong," said Baculanta. "I didn't know a safe place to go. The water had risen up to my knees."

Nearby, 18 children between the ages of three and 10 had been moved into a conference room. Before the waters flooded in, they sought shelter under two large tables. As the water quickly rose, they climbed, or were helped, on to the table top.

"I prayed and I helped Rose, who was about to drown," seven-year-old May Joy recalled.

Before the storm, the government-run orphanage and shelter housed 108 women and children, many of whom had been abandoned or sexually abused.   Continued...

An aerial view of the devastation is seen in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in Palo, a township south of Tacloban City in central Philippines November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su