TOMAHAWK - Tim Iding went to the Philippines expecting to spend time with his fiance Loneta's family, and do some diving. Instead he found tragedy.|
Iding, who prefers to go by Shortcut, hadn't been to the Philippines since his final days during the Vietnam War. He was a diver for a salvaging boat during the war.
He decided to visit his fiance's family in the Philippines when Typhoon Yolanda hit.
"You hear tornadoes where people say it sounds like a train," Shortcut said. "It didn't sound like that, but the wind you could hear."
They had a 72-hour warning before the typhoon hit. They stayed in a sturdy, cement room during the storm. Shortcut said the back of the building took the brunt of the storm. Winds reached nearly 230 miles per hour
"Everything was getting kinda blown from the mountains over the top of me and towards the ocean," Shortcut said.
Shortcut and his fiance Loneta, who goes by Loni, made it through the storm untouched. They found out a few days later that her entire family made it too.
But people around them weren't so lucky.
"These people the next morning, still everybody is in shock," Shortcut said. "You've got families sitting around, with their house gone."
According to the government, the death toll has passed 5,200 people. Filipinos look to their government and aid organizations for help. They're getting food and water in the hardest hit cities like Tacloban. But Shortcut worries about remote areas, like where his fiance's family lives.
"But to try to get these people relief efforts, to these small villages and up into the mountain," Shortcut said. "I don't know how something like that is going to get done."
He used all of his vacation and diving money to buy people food and supplies. But then he had to come home.
"I had to come back," Shortcut said. "If I'd of had more money I would of stayed there and I wouldn't be back here right now."
Even through all of the turmoil from the typhoon, Shortcut says the scariest part of the adventure was the ferry he had to take to get to his plane. He couldn't go to the Tacloban Airport because it had been hit hard by a storm surge.
So he had to take a ferry on a 12-hour ride to Cebu City to get a flight home. He says the ferry had at least 500 people on board, and was overloaded. Based on experience at sea during Vietnam, Shortcut believes the boat would have capsized in rougher seas.
"This is really happening and if there would have been a swell out at sea that night that thing would have went down, guaranteed," Shortcut said.
But he made it back to Tomahawk. His fiance is staying with her family until they get back up on their feet. They'll get married sometime when she gets back.
After all of this he knows they can weather any storm.
UNICEF Typhoon Fund