Ines Olivier waited for nearly a week for news of her mother after her family's village in the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
The storm that left over over 5,000 people dead and thousands more displaced in November, could have killed Olivier's 78-year-old mother, too. But Rosita Agustin held on, literally clinging to a wooden beam of her house for 90 minutes as water rushed by, leveling much of her town in Leyte.
Augustin told the Red Cross:
“In front of my house towards the beach, I could see a giant wave. That’s when I felt a terrible dread. I tried to run to the front door – it was a reflex to want to get out. But in the few seconds it took me to walk, I knew it was already too late.
I grabbed my big wooden crucifix and climbed on my bed as the water rushed in. I was amazed at how quickly it rose – I could hardly breathe. I grabbed on to my door frame and stayed there for about an hour and a half. When I opened my eyes, I could see the bodies of my neighbors and my friends in the water. Nine bodies of my neighbours, just floating. They drowned.”
Unlike many of her friends, Augustin survived the storm. But for her daughter, who lives thousands of miles away in the Pacific island of New Caledonia, the fear of not knowing her mother's fate was nearly unbearable. “I tried to call my mum but I couldn’t get through. I felt sick,” Olivier told the Red Cross. “I was sobbing. I felt totally powerless.”
Ultimately, a Red Cross volunteer found Augustin and put her in touch with her daughter.
Olivier recounts the harrowing journey of finding her mother in the video below: