Escalante escapes brunt of super typhoon

Darrell Cole
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Amherst had six-year partnership with Philippines’ city

Amherst municipal officials have heard from their counterparts in Escalante City, Philippines. Amherst partnered with the city between 2002 and 2008.

AMHERST – Amherst’s director of Community and Economic Development is breathing a sigh of relief after hearing from friends in Escalante City in the Philippines.

Amherst partnered with the city through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities from 2002 to 2008, helping develop a local economic develop strategy and later an eco-tourism strategy.

Escalante south of the path of Super Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines late last week, and may have killed at least 10,000 people. While it didn’t see the winds other areas to the north did, MacIsaac said it still saw a significant impact.

“I received word from them this morning that there’s a lot of damage, but it doesn’t appear as though there were any fatalities,” Roger MacIsaac said Tuesday. “They had to evacuate about 20,000 before the storm and a lot of people during the storm.”

Municipal leaders from Amherst and Escalante visited each other during the six-year partnership and MacIsaac became close friends with Fred Reteracion. It was Reteracion who contacted him by email on Tuesday.

Amherst was honoured by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2010 for its work in Escalante, while MacIsaac was recognized earlier this year for his work in the Philippines and Cambodia – work he does on his vacation time.

MacIsaac said there were intermittent power outages following the storm that made getting information from Escalante difficult.

While the partnership ended in 2008, MacIsaac still keeps in touch with officials in Escalante and with friends he made in areas like Bohol and Tacloban, which took the brunt of the storm.

MacIsaac visited Tacloban many times while in the Philippines and said it’s an historic city. He said he can imagine the destruction and is afraid for some of the friends he made there.

“I haven’t from them since the storm, but there are many communications issues there right now. All I can do is hope for the best and keep my fingers crossed that everyone’s OK,” MacIsaac said. “The people of the Philippines are a very resilient people. It seems as though they have one calamity after another, but they always rebuild and move on.”

MacIsaac was in the Philippines several weeks ago doing work for the FCM when an earthquake struck Bohol, killing 222 and injuring another 976. He said there were a couple of fatalities in Escalante from the earthquake.

“It was a different feeling. I was in an earthquake in Hawaii a number of years ago so I sort of knew what was happening. The biggest thing was being aware of your surroundings,” MacIsaac said. “In the days following there were about 800 aftershocks and some of them were pretty strong.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Geographic location: Escalante, Philippines, Bohol Tacloban Cambodia Hawaii

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