On Thursday evening, November 8th 2013, typhoon warnings could be heard across the Philippine islands. When this “Supper Storm” hit, the unanticipated happened, the sea surged with great force and within a moment, miles of coast line where destroyed leaving thousands of people dead. Many people where left adrift, alone as they where battered by passing rivers of debris as the floodwaters receded. They were left clinging to their uncertain lives, while wondering if this was the end of their world. Survivors had to tramp bare foot, while crossing rivers and mountains of sharp debris to get to shelter in order to find their loved ones dead or alive. Surviving Typhoon Hiayana, was an epic struggle for Philippinos. One island, overwhelming fatalities, while another islands sustained little damage. Nature is as it should be and yet its not, this is the tension we live, work, and breathe.
Two American friends, Cody Carothers and Mike Morse both came onto this scene about two and a half weeks after the catastrophe. Both are old surfing friends who met in Maui around fifteen years ago at a non profit surfing organization. Individually Cody and Mike always jump at the opportunity to help in disaster situations internationally through assisting medical teams, rebuilding homes, raising money and awareness. Together they had the opportunity to respond to the Sri Lanka Tsunami relief effort in 2005. When Mike first heard about Typhoon Hayania, he immediately reached out to some non-profits knowing creative photojournalism could be of use, while his second email was to his good friend Cody who now lives in Sri Lanka. Cody was already under way with his own plans to help his Philippino friends who lived in the path of the Typhoon. Cody rebuilt demolished homes on the south of Leyte Island and Mike worked with an international team of doctors and nurses in the north of Leyte. While in Tacloban Mike took photos that help NGO’s raise social awareness and funds. Well, just one island away from the two surfing volunteers was Sirago and it has an internationally known surfing wave called, “Cloud Nine.” So you can guess where they went to debrief and talk about all they had seen and done. So whenever a natural disaster strikes these old friends are committed to doing what they can, to show up and make a difference. If there is a wave close by you can bet they will always go there to celebrate all that can be done in such a horrific and beautiful world.