US Boy Scouts to help build disaster-proof homes in Tacloban

By Jared Bray, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jun 11 2014 10:26 AM | Updated as of Jun 11 2014 06:26 PM

PROVO, Utah – A Filipino couple is teaming up with a group of Boy Scouts of America youth members to build disaster-proof homes for survivors of typhoon Yolanda.

Seven months after typhoon Yolanda plowed into the Philippines, several survivors of the storm are still struggling to find permanent shelter.

For that reason, Rene and Jean Doria, founders of the Utah-based nonprofit organization called IHHelp (Improving Housing, Health, Education and Livelihood of the Poor in the Philippines) have taken a group of Boy Scouts and Boy Scouts leaders to Tacloban where they are building two disaster proof homes for families in need.

"They noticed I was feeling bad after I had heard about the storm," Doria said. "And these boys were the ones who said, 'We’d like to do something about it. Can we help?’ And so we started planning."

Made with structural insulated panels, the 12-by-20-foot dwellings have been tested to withstand major earthquakes and winds of up to 220 miles per hour.

"Yolanda was 195, so if this home was there, it would not have blown away," Manila native and Utah resident Rene Doria said. "The roof would not have blown away or any of its sidings. It would have remained intact."

According to Doria, the homes cost $4,000 each and are the first of their kind in the Philippines.

"Our IHHELPP Foundation is hoping that the government can see that you can actually build an affordable disaster-proof home," he said.

Although the soon-to-be Eagle Scouts don't have much experience in building houses, they are excited to help. They even plan on assisting other families who won't be receiving a new residence.

"I'm also just excited for just like going and distributing what I collected and just meeting the people and seeing their culture," said Boy Scout Riley Sterrett.

In addition to helping families build new homes, the group is also distributing school supplies, hygiene kits, sports equipment, kitchen utensils and construction tools.

"Because of the destruction, a lot of them don’t have anything and so bringing these things will help them," Boy Scout Nathan Novilla said.

The group plans to complete its project and return to Utah by mid-June.