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Typhoon Haiyan survivors in Australia seek government support

Tuesday April 15, 2014 - 10:02 EST

An Australian who escaped Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is asking the Australian Government for emergency assistance to help get his family back on its feet.

Typhoon Haiyan tore across the central islands on November 8 last year, .

Bill Van Doorn, his Filipino wife and their small children retreated to Queensland in the wake of the devastation.

He says it's been tough for them to rebuild their lives in Australia.

"I'm hoping we can get some sort of disaster relief, because we've come from an area where we've lost everything," he said.

"Just to arrive with two suitcases with clothing in it and our documents.

"I need to get back to work, and that's how we'll recover."

The city of Tacloban bore the brunt of the devastating typhoon, with the city virtually destroyed by the strongest storm ever to make landfall.

Mr Van Doorn, who lived in neighbouring Palo, says he was lucky to be able to get out.

"I walked from my house to the airport the first day, because I'd heard that there was an American plane there that was evacuating expats," he said.

"It was approximately 27 kilometres to the airport from my place [and] at one point I waded through probably metre-deep water for about three or four kilometres, encountering numerous dead just floating in the water.

"I was very cautious about injuring myself, because the water would be full of all sorts of things, all sorts of diseases.

"Once I made it to the airport, I was fortunate to get assistance from the US military [but] there's still 250,000 people down there. I have no idea what they're going to do."

Typhoon Haiyan also crippled infrastructure and destroyed or severely damaged 1.1 million houses, leaving more than 4 million people homeless.

Mr Van Doorn says almost six months on, the situation is still desperate.

"The feedback I'm getting is that electricity may be back on by the end of the month...the water facility is still not there," he said.

"Fuel prices quadrupled, prices of public transport....a drive from my place into downtown [which] would cost about 8 pesos, less than 50 cents, is now over a dollar. For Filipinos that's extremely difficult because they just don't have that money.

"Food prices - the supermarkets there were like a riot zone after the typhoon - it was just dangerous to be there."

In the wake of the typhoon, the Philippines has vowed to "build back better" and break the cycle of devastation and rehabilitation in a country hit by dozens of typhoons each year.

Mr Van Doorn says he won't be among those trying to rebuild their lives in the Philippines.

"To go back only to assist relatives of my wife - that would be the reason to go back, but not on a permanent basis," he said.

"I can't see a future there."


© ABC 2014

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