by Joni Astrup
Members of a family formerly of Elk River now living in the Philippines came through the typhoon unscathed and are raising money to help others less fortunate.
Dave and Kim Miller and their children, Kenzie, 14, Ethan, 12, Avery, 10, and Addi, 8, were in their house in Cebu City when Typhoon Haiyan hit on Nov. 8.
“The morning of the storm, we lost power at 7 a.m.,” Kim Miller said via email. “We had no Internet or TV, so we had no idea what was going on outside of our area.”
They live in a high rise and had no damage from the typhoon, which hit hardest about 100 miles north of their home. The Millers did experience very strong winds and very heavy rain for about six hours. Their power was not restored for 30 hours, and cell towers were down as well, she said.
After they got power back three days after the storm, they learned where the typhoon actually hit and what kind of damage it caused.
It took another two days for the Millers to get word from friends on the nearby islands that were totally cut off from the mainland of Cebu, she said.
“They had no water, no power, no food,” she said. “These islands get daily shipments from Cebu for everything from rice to water and other supplies except for fish. The boats were not running for several days because of rough water.”
Once they heard that they had friends who had lost their homes, they wanted to help but didn’t have any way to get there with food or to even send them money.
“We went to pack goods with the government here in Cebu but was sort of a crazy mess with people everywhere and not a lot of direction. That is when we decided we had to do something for our friends to ensure they got help,” she said.
They set up a site at www.gofundme.com/584vco and Kim Miller said the response has been overwhelming.
They have raised $7,430 so far and done a number of projects.
They have restored a roof with typhoon-standard materials. They have rebuilt three bamboo homes and are preparing to start construction of two cement homes.
They have also made two trips to Bantayan Island, delivering food and water. In one neighborhood where they have a friend, 50 families live in the area and only one house survived the storm.
People are living in tents and under makeshift tarps made from rice bags, Kim Miller said.
Relief efforts from the government will continue through December, but she said their friends tell them that the amount of food given to a family of five is not enough and there is not enough for everyone.
Tourism is a key part of the economy, and with many resorts damaged, most of the people are out of a job, she said.
“Right now their daily job is to find food. Rebuilding will take years for many earning about $4 a day and a bamboo house runs about $800,” she said.
People have no insurance and there are no home loans.
One of their friends lost everything in the storm. The Millers got her house built, but she lost her oven, which was her livelihood. The woman baked cakes and other items and has had to cancel all of the orders she had for Christmas, Miller said.
“She has no way of making money until she can replace the oven. It took her years of saving to buy the little oven she had,” she said.
They also know of a fisherman who lost his boat and he can’t work until he can build a new one.
“These are just a few of the stories,” she said.
The Millers are continuing to collect money through gofundme.com to help those reeling from the typhoon.
The Millers spent eight months in the Philippines last year and will be there for this year and 2014 as well.
Dave Miller oversees a call center operation in the Philippines for an Indian company, and his job is what brought him and his family to the Philippines.
Kim Miller said they are not from Elk River, but lived here for eight years.
“My kids consider it home,” she said.