Reaseheath College arboriculture assessor and lecturer Jonathan ‘Jono’ Finlow is in the Philippines answering an emergency call for help from rural communities hit by a typhoon.
Jono and fellow members of DART International UK (Disaster Arborist Response Team) are currently part of a global relief effort in Northern Samar, which was hit by Typhoon Melor in December.
The typhoon made its landfall on the largely rural and impoverished region before going on to strike several other islands across the Central Philippines, which has been declared a ‘state of national calamity’. Although over three quarters of a million people were safely evacuated, 41 people died and many more are missing or injured. Tens of thousands of homes and public properties have been destroyed and over 280,000 people are sheltering in evacuation centres.
After receiving a formal request for assistance from the Mayor of San Jose, a coastal town in Northern Samar, a DART team of Jono, Team Leader Gary Bailey, Team Medic James Enticknap-Green and Graham Beer left for the Philippines on New Year’s Eve. They are spending two weeks on the stricken island clearing typhoon debris to allow safe access for other relief teams and treating damaged and high risk trees.
If appropriate, and with the approval of local community leaders, they are also training local volunteers in chainsaw handling and tree clearance and may donate machinery and safety equipment to those they have trained.
Jono, who assesses Reaseheath apprentices and teaches on our Level 3 Diploma in Forestry and Arboriculture, also runs The Good Tree Company and is a DART trustee. His disaster relief work is supported by our students and staff, who raise funds for the charity. For the latest effort, Reaseheath trained arborist Twm-Tegid Brunton, a member of the North West Welsh Opera Choir, sang Christmas carols from the top of a 100 foot high redwood tree on campus.
Twm is well on his way to raising £1,000 for DART. You can still donate at www.justgiving.com/Twm-Brunton/
Header image caption: Jono Finlow teaching Reaseheath’s arboriculture students