The Union Recorder

Local News

November 14, 2013

Georgia College students, professor reflect on typhoon devastation months after study abroad trip

MILLEDGEVILLE — Four months ago Georgia College nursing professor Dr. Flors Bondal and a group of students traveled to the Philippines to study abroad in her native country. 

There they witnessed first-hand the emotional strength of the nation’s people, who were in the midst of rebuilding their lives in the wake of a magnitude-7.6 earthquake that struck the east coast last year.

Now as devastation encompasses the country once again the Philippines native said people there are “still optimistic” as they continue to keep the faith to get through the massive devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

“I took 11 students and one faculty member to study abroad over the summer. Even with the devastation from the earthquake, the people were still smiling and laughing. We did not earn a lot of money when we were working there, and with the earthquake and typhoon, it’s hard to see them like this because they’re hard-working people,” Bondal said. “Students were able to see the economic levels of people there; some living in bricks and others in shacks.”

One of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded slammed into the Philippines Friday with wind estimates at landfall as high as 195 mph. The death toll is 2,344, according a national tally kept by the disaster agency as of Wednesday afternoon, with numerous others still unaccounted for. That figure is expected to rise, perhaps significantly, when accurate information is collected from the whole disaster zone, which spreads over a wide swath of the eastern and central Philippines but appears to be concentrated on two main islands — Leyte and Samar.

“My brother, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, sister, cousins, uncles and aunties are OK. My auntie ...  lost their house and some of my cousins’ houses were damaged,” Bondal said. “I have distant relatives in Samar and I haven’t heard from them yet. I talked to my sister [Tuesday night] and she said we have friends that lost their houses.”

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