Helpless as Hayain hits home

TAMWORTH resident and drummer for local Filipino band Sanlahi, Nelbert Adrles, is one of about 300 Filipino ex-patriots who call Tamworth home – and the devastating effects of Typhoon Hayain have been deeply felt here.

“It’s really hard for us,” Mr Adrles, 27, said.

It was hard for the 11 band members to head up to last weekend’s Barraba Festival with the thought of the typhoon bearing down on the Philippines in their minds.

“It was really bad, you know, because we are preparing for the Barraba Festival for four months, then the typhoon happened ... we had no choice (but to honour that commitment),” he said.

He said when they played at the festival on Saturday night, they’d heard advance reports the typhoon might kill up to 1000 people – so when they heard the next morning that 10 times that number had died they were in shock.

“On Sunday we were really upset,” he said.

“Imagine dealing with those bodies. They say it’s a combination of a tsunami and a storm, so it’s really bad.”

Mr Adrles said the Philippines experienced a typhoon once a month – but nothing on the scale of Typhoon Hayain had ever been seen before anywhere in the world.

It was 400 kilometres wide and had close to 300km/h winds, with the eye of the storm where his grandparents used to live and where a cousin now lives – Tacloban City.

The city had been “completely wiped out – 70 to 80 per cent was just gone,” Mr Adrles said.

Mr Adrles said yesterday that he would be speaking with the elders of the 300-strong Filipino community in Tamworth to work out a fundraising strategy to help their countrymen.

Sanlahi would also be playing at the fundraising concert in Armidale on December 7.

Mr Adrles said another typhoon was also expected to make landfall in the Philippines yesterday at noon.

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