At 82-years-old, Valentin Acra is the second oldest person in the island village of Binaly in the Philippines. He and his wife Mercedes were both born and raised in the village and have brought up five children there.
When Typhoon Melor approached the island during Christmas 2015, the couple were warned to seek the safety of higher ground and even to consider leaving altogether.
However, they had heard this warning many times before and their little island had always escaped the worst of the storms. The couple decided to stay in their home, but after a night of heavy rains, the wind started blowing so hard that the roof began to come apart.
At this point, they fled their home to the local primary school. More than 400 people were crammed into the two concrete buildings as the storm raged overhead.
The category 4 typhoon caused catastrophic damage across several parts of the Philippines. Wind reached speeds of almost 200 mph, while homes, crops and livelihoods were totally destroyed in many communities.
In Binaly, one of the first places to be hit, the storm persisted for four hours. It was the strongest storm that Mercedes and Valentin had ever experienced.
Miraculously, none of the villagers were hurt, but no home escaped damage. There was nothing left of Mercedes and Valentin’s home. Mercedes was devastated, as they had no way of rebuilding their home.
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