Survival & Rebuilding

In November, Typhoon Yolanda slammed the Philippines with wind gusts of more than 170 miles per hours that left more than 6,000 dead and more than 1,500 still missing.

Naperville resident, Naperville Central and North Central College Alum, Jonathan Miers, survived the storm in the small city of Tacloban and is now at the forefront of the attempt to rebuild the area he called home.

When Jonathan heard Typhoon Yolanda was headed towards his home, he went into his bathroom for safety and rode out the storm for nearly three hours, the whole time not knowing what the future held.

“I didn’t know what to do, I had no choice,” said Miers when asked about his experience inside that storm. “You’re out of options. Your only option is to sit there and hope for the best…I guess I was prepared not to let go, but to let things happen.”

Miers, thankfully survived the storm, but that didn’t mean his problems were over.

After the storm subsided, Miers realized his roof was gone, but was able to make it to his office where he spent four days without power and little food and water.

Jonathan’s boss opened their office to a homeless family and offered to share their food, a thought that didn’t sit well with Miers at first, but then proved to teach him one of the biggest lessons of his life.

“I woke up the next morning and thought ‘what was I thinking.’ These are families, but I was never in that situation so I didn’t know how to act,” Miers said. “My first instinct was to take care of myself, and the next day I was ashamed of myself for thinking that way.”

After the four days, Miers was evacuated to another part of the Philippines. Then, instead of getting on a plane and coming home to the state, Miers made a selfless choice…he was going to stay and help.

Miers recently told his story of survival to a full Miley Swallow Hall on the campus of North Central College in hopes of reaching an audience that could help him raise money to take back to the Philippines for those affected.

A story that helped a national headline hit home for members of the audience.

“Hearing his story and the way he talked about sitting in the bathroom, hugging his knees and praying, and preparing to die,” said Brennan Nagle, who was in the audience that night. “That adds a whole different element.”

“He lived through it, was able to get out and the first thing he did was to help the 80 people that worked for him and care for them,” said another audience member, Ken Koranda.

The rebuilding process will take much more than just constructing the buildings that were lost, instead they must improve the quality of those buildings to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.

But even that won’t be easy.

“To build a bunch of rowed, concrete houses is not good for the culture because it’s not what they know. But, if we can somehow create a typhoon-proof home and still utilize some of the native products, that’s the long term solution,” explained Miers.

Hoping to help his neighbors, to rebuild one safe home at a time.

Miers’ initial goal is to raise $50,000 to provide immediate assistance to those suffering in the Philippines.

For more information or to donate, visit GoAbroad.org.

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