Nurse thanks readers for their help with EDP’s Help for the Philippines Appeal

Arlene Legasbi, whose in-laws have been hit by typhoon Haiyan.

Arlene Legasbi, whose in-laws have been hit by typhoon Haiyan. - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

Generous EDP readers who leapt to the aid of the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan's devastation have been thanked by a Filipino nurse based in Norwich.

Arlene Legasbi, 45, of Waterloo Road, knows only too well the importance of the £11,070 raised for Unicef by hundreds of kind hearted readers who were moved by the plight of millions of children left at risk when one of the strongest typhoons on record cut a path of destruction through the Philippines.

Her in-laws, including father-in-law Rodolfo, 75, mother-in-law Maura, 75, brother-in-law Bobby, 48 and sister-in-law Judy, 42, have all been affected by the devastation on Panay island, where they live.

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The island was the fifth land mass to be hit by the typhoon, which brought winds up to 200mph and forced many of the islanders to evacuate their homes to a school on Panay.

Mrs Legasbi, who works at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said Bobby and Judy's home was completely destroyed by the winds, though Rodolfo and Maura's home miraculaously escaped serious damage.

To compound matters, the mother-of-two was unable to contact her in-laws for five days in the aftermath of the typhoon and was unaware whether they were safe.

She said: 'We were unable to contact them for five days, which was hard. It was heartbreaking. I tried to contact my own family to see if they had contacted them, but they were unable to do so.'

Her parents Felino and Epefania Legasbi, 81 and 78 respectively, live in Iloilo City which was not as badly affected by the disaster.

When she was finally able to contact her relatives by mobile phone, they described the scene of devastation on the island and the sound of the wind, which was reminiscent of an approaching helicopter.

The family were evacuated to a school, but the extreme winds tore off a section of the roof, leaving them exposed to water thrown up by the winds, which flooded the building up to their ankles.

'For a couple of days, they said it was very hard for them because there was no water and no food. It was very difficult for them to get help,' Mrs Legasbi added.

No food was available on the island due to the destruction wrought by Haiyan, so the only option was to drive into Iloilo City, which was two or three hours away.

Mrs Legasbi believed part of the problem was that media attention had been focusing on the situation in Tacloban in the north, to the detriment of Panay, which had also been badly affected.

She added: 'My mother-in-law kept crying and crying. She said she had never experienced anything like it in her life.'

As well as the EDP's appeal, Pinas Norwich, the organisation that represents the Filipino community, will be holding a fund raising Christmas Charity Ball: A Variety Show at Sprowston High School on December 7 at 5pm with all proceeds going to help the Filipinos.

The event will feature local Filipino talents, Filipino Britain's Got Talent contestant Arisxandra Libantino, 11 and Joseph Apostol, from The Voice UK.

Mrs Legasbi added: 'The fund raising is really important to them to help them meet their basic needs. Really, it is for the food, shelter and water that is most important to them because we don't know how long they are going to survive without the essentials because everything has been devastated. There are no crops, so it is important to get food there.'

Unicef believes 5.4 million children have been affected by the disaster and the charity is playing a vital role in the worst-hit regions.

Earlier this week, Catherine Cottrell, deputy executive director of Unicef UK, said: 'The response from the UK public so far has been incredible, and I'd like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the Eastern Daily Press/Norwich Evening News and your readers for your support and generosity so far.

'But there is still more work to do and Unicef is appealing for £38m to continue its lifesaving work. Even just a small donation can make a huge difference.'

Tickets for the Christmas Charity Ball cost £10 and food is included and there will also be a raffle, while the dress code for the event is formal. To book, phone Tess Ward on 01603 495867.

•Click here to make a donation to Unicef to help the children in the Philippines

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