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Prof. affected by typhoon

Prof. Marie Shanahan’s parents survivors in Tolosa, location of Typhoon Haiyan which left thousands

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 00:12

On Nov. 3, a powerful storm brewed in the Pacific Ocean that threatened the lives of millions of Filipino residents throughout the Southeast Asian island nation. While UConn students focused on midterms and papers, journalism professor Marie Shanahan was frantically waiting to hear from her parents, Jack and Fe Shanahan, who reside in the town of Tolosa where Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the area with winds between 145 and 195 miles per hour, according to the Washington Post, and razed the entire town leaving thousands dead and millions displaced.

“I thought they were dead,” said Shanahan.

The Shanahans, who split their time between Enfield, Conn. and Tolosa were caught in the middle of the storm and witnessed the destruction first hand.

“The town is completely flattened, one hundred percent of the buildings are damaged,” said Marie Shanahan. “Tolosa is uninhabitable.”

Before the storm hit, Shanahan tried to get in touch with her parents and warn them to leave the island, but the couple could not leave because they were already stuck. Shanahan said that her parents received a warning from the U.S Embassy in Manila that the storm was coming and to prepare, but other than that, her family received no indication that the storm would be so severe.

“They don’t have Wi-Fi. All they have is an air card…no newspaper delivery. There’s a radio and my father’s friend does have internet, but they had no other information,” Shanahan said. “They had no information on how bad it would be.”

The Shanahans waited out the storm in their own home and reported that the surges of water coming from the sea were 10 to 13 feet high and powerful enough to completely destroy the first level of their home.

“The first floor completely washed away, everything is gone,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan, who visited the island this summer, said that knowing all the roads she drove on and the airport in the town are completely gone is surreal.

“It’s upsetting to know everything is gone,” Shanahan said. “The devastation is utterly complete.”

Nearly a month after the devastating hit and groups such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders are still reporting that providing relief in this natural disaster situation is complicated and they have not been able to reach many victims.

The Shanahans were fortunate to escape the island by driving to a port and catching a boat to another island that sustained less damage. From there they flew to Hong Kong and then to the United States.

“They want to go back,” Shanahan said. “But they’ll need to wait for infrastructure to come back.”


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