Sister’s pain for brother in typhoon

TOGETHER Bella Nicholas, far right, with her siblings in 2011, including brother Bartolome Tongo, centre.
TOGETHER Bella Nicholas, far right, with her siblings in 2011, including brother Bartolome Tongo, centre.
A view of Ashling Park Road. Credit: Google Street View

Kitchen partially destroyed after blaze at bungalow with no smoke alarms

Have your say

BELLA Nicholas rushed to contact her family in the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan unleashed its destructive force on the islands.

The 48-year-old supermarket worker spoke to her sister who was safe in Naga City – but it was days later she heard her brother Bartolome Tongo, 50, had only narrowly survived the typhoon.

Bella Nicholas

Bella Nicholas

He had taken refuge under his kitchen sink with seven others as the storm hit his home in Palawan. But wind ripped off the roof forcing them to flee to a nearby home.

Bella, of Beaufort Close, in Lee-on-the-Solent, said he has lost everything.

‘They watched people die from hiding under that sink,’ she said.

‘He lost everything, he lost his house and he’s staying with a friend now.

‘Now they’re trying to rebuild his home by picking up bits and pieces.

‘The help hasn’t arrived yet but they’ve had the food relief.

‘Some of them have got money but they haven’t got anywhere to buy food.

‘It’s difficult for them, they can’t leave the town at the moment as they haven’t got any transport.’

The typhoon struck on November 8 and the death toll is set to exceed 10,000.

Bella, who has lived in the UK for 23 years, had spoken to her family on the day the typhoon hit but did not find out about her brother until November 10.

She is unable to contact him directly and is using Facebook to get updates from her sister, who lives with the rest of the family.

Bella added: ‘I did try to get in touch with him but I couldn’t get through because there’s no power.

‘I was just so worried, I would start crying thinking of them and watching the news I would feel just terrible.

‘I just can’t do anything – I feel so helpless.’

Bella last visited the Philippines two years ago to see her mother and siblings.

Staff at Morrisons in Gosport, where Bella works, have raised cash with a charity football match.

They played against those at the Portsmouth Victory Park store, raising £500.

Now Bella and 14 friends have organised a fundraising Filipino buffet at St Mary’s Church, in High Street, Gosport on Sunday.

It starts after mass at 12.30pm and all are welcome to the event.

The Disasters Emergency Committee, made up of 14 charities, has already reached £39m for its Philippines Typhoon Appeal.