My heartache at devastation

Anthony Melendrez, who is heading up the fundraising appeal for the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Yolanda which is being co-ordinated through Hartlepool People's Centre.
Anthony Melendrez, who is heading up the fundraising appeal for the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Yolanda which is being co-ordinated through Hartlepool People's Centre.
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A FILIPINO man living in Hartlepool says he has been horrified by the devastation in his homeland caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Anthony Reyes Melendrez, who has lived in town for eight years, spoke of his heartbreak at news coverage of the damage after the disaster that has claimed at least 2,300 lives.

He is appealing for people to support a relief campaign that is under way in Hartlepool to send food, clothes and medicine to the country.

Anthony, 36, moved to Hartlepool in 2005 when wife Rizalina, 37, got a job as a nurse at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The dad of two said: “It is just heartbreaking what has happened.

“When you see people’s bodies laying on the ground and 95 per cent of people’s homes have been destroyed, all I can do is just pray and cry.

“Some mornings I don’t want to watch the TV news because it is just so disturbing.

“That’s the reason why this campaign has started and why I am supporting it. I can’t just sit back in my front room with its warm fireplace and do nothing while seeing what is happening in the Philippines.”

Anthony, a part-time freelance photographer, is from the province of Mindoro in the north of the Philippines where his brothers and sisters still live.

Although it was in the direct path of Typhoon Haiyan, its mountainous terrain meant it did not suffer the devastating damage seen in other parts of the country.

But he has close friends on Teesside whose family are missing and feared dead in the areas worst affected.

The drive for donations in Hartlepool is part of a Teesside-wide effort by the Filipino community and the charity Answering the Cry of the Poor.

Hartlepool Camera Club, of which Anthony is a member, is supporting the appeal in Hartlepool and a collection on Wednesday night raised £160.

Its base at Hartlepool Peoples Centre, in Raby Road, is serving as a collection point for donations of clothes, dry goods, canned foods and money.

A fund-raising night will also be held at the Tees and Hartlepool Yacht Club, Fleet Terrace, on Thursday.

There will be raffles and a disco from 6pm to 11pm.