Former Tacoma Mayor Brian Ebersole arrived in the Philippines shortly after Typhoon Haiyan hit the islands.While internet service has been spotty, Ebersole was able to send two notes about the conditions he found when he arrived. He lives part of the year on Boracay Island and has business interests in the Philippines and said he plans to arrive back in Tacoma for the holidays Tuesday.
Ebersole served as mayor from 1996 to 2000 and is also a former member of the state House of Representatives from South Tacoma and former speaker of the House.
This was written on Nov. 24:
“I just returned back from Boracay island to Manila. Boracay was in the storm's broad path, but suffered little damage compared to the places hit by the storm surge. (If only the authorities had said "it is going to be like a TSUNAMI !)
“I did lose the house I was building high on a hill on Boracay. It was wood beam frame and native nipa roofing with no walls yet above the concrete foundation, and so the storm wind just lifted it up off the foundation and crashed it down nearby. No injuries and the local people were excited to tell me about the incident.
“The neighborhood houses with concrete blocks reinforced by rebar stood up well. Those made of bamboo and plywood and tin were blown down. It has happened before so most folks rebuilt their own shelter with salvaged material, and didn't even consider it to be a big deal. The food and water supply was not damaged, and if you have food and clean water for your children you are considered Ok here, if not well -off.
“The tourists on the island, of course, were not much affected except the electricity and the internet service were out, and the airplanes were not flying. Not a significant problem by Filipino standards. I guess it all just depends on what standard of living you are use to.
“I fly home to TacSea on Tuesday, Nov. 26, for that uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for including having the privilege to live in America.”
An earlier e-mail arrived shortly after he reached Manila on Nov. 8:
“I arrived in manila on Friday, November 8 at 10pm. The winds had died down enough for my flight from Seoul to land. I'm fine, but many Filipino friends are now homeless. The wood frame house I was building on the island of Boracay was completely blown off its concrete pilings“I am in Manila because there is no electric power on Boracay, and things are generally a mess there. The saddest thing is the lack of any real relief effort. The government is without resources, so nothing much gets made right after a natural disaster. The local people all pitch in, and work hard, but the government can do very very little. (The state budget for Washington is greater than the budget for the nation of the Philippines for 92 million people.)
“The average citizen makes 180 US dollars a month, and the price of good food[protein] is about the same. Hard to comprehend how poor Filipinos are compared to those of us from developed economies.”