For more than 90 minutes, Rosita Agustin, 78, a grandmother and rice farmer in the village of Leyte in the Philippines dangled from the wooden beam of a door frame in her two-bedroom house. Typhoon Haiyan had ripped her roof off and its resulting flood water destroyed her village, pummeling everything in its path and killing many of her friends.
Thousands of miles away on the Pacific island of New Caledonia, Ines Oliver, Agustin’s daughter, was waking to the news thousands that Typhoon Haiyan had destroyed almost everything in its path and claimed thousands of lives. "I tried to call my mum but I couldn't get through. I felt sick," she said. "I was sobbing - I felt totally powerless."
Oliver contacted the Philippine Red Cross asking if Agustin could be traced. Four days later, a team of volunteers visited Leyte and clambered over the rubble to Agustin's neighborhood. There they found Agustin, desperate to tell her family she was safe but with no means to communicate with anyone outside the village.
"A Red Cross volunteer came over and asked ‘Are you Rosita Agustin?'” Agustin recalled. “Your daughter is looking for you.' I hugged him and I kissed him a 1,000 times."
Less than a week after the storm, Oliver arrived in the Philippines and headed straight for the family home. "When I saw her, it was the happiest day of my life. To think she hung on to the door frame for so long is incredible. She's a very strong woman."
Oliver, a French Red Cross volunteer at home, stayed on in Tacloban to offer her skills as a logistician and help the relief effort.
Philippine Red Cross teams nationwide have been striving to trace more than 20,000 people separated by the storm and are continuing to reunite families in the aftermath of the disaster. For more information, visit on restoring family links services, visit http://familylinks.icrc.org/yolanda-typhoon/en/Pages/Home.aspx.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.