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Sturgis woman who survived Philippines typhoon hailed as hero on nationwide television

Elsa Thomasma  (courtesy GoAbroad Foundation}
Elsa Thomasma (courtesy GoAbroad Foundation}

CANGUMBANG, PHILIPPINES  (WKZO) - A Sturgis woman who stayed in the Philippines after the storm, is being hailed as a hero. CBS featured her story on the CBS Morning News.

What Elsa Thomasma did for the people of Cangumbang was to build a community evacuation center, and to build it on stilts.

With the help of her parents, she raised $40,000 through their church in Sturgis to pay for the structure.

Typhoons and flooding have been a chronic problem in the village and so she spent the last year raising the money as part of her mission with the GoAbroad Foundation.

When the big storm came, everyone from the village survived, riding out the wind and waves in her shelter.

They called it “Project Ark” and that’s exactly how it worked when the tidal surges came.

No other village in the area can make the same claim.

At last count the death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan stands at 42-hundred and rising.

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