Typhoon Haiyan survivor swims to safety, gives birth to Baby Bea Joy

By Dave Andrusko

Newborn Bea Joy is held as her mother, Emily Ortega, 21, rests after giving birth Monday at an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport in the central Philippines. Ortega had to swim through floodwaters to find safety. BULLIT MARQUEZ/AP

Newborn Bea Joy is held as her mother, Emily Ortega, 21, rests after giving birth Monday at an improvised clinic at Tacloban airport in the central Philippines. Ortega had to swim through floodwaters to find safety.
BULLIT MARQUEZ/AP

Amidst unspeakable tragedy in the Philippines, what can only be described as a miracle. Emily Ortega gave birth to Bea Joy Sagales at a makeshift medical center in the city of Tacloban, after surviving Typhoon Haiyan’s 170 mph winds.

The baby was named after Emily’s mother who is thought to be among the estimated 10,000 people to have died as huge waves crushed coastal towns and villages.

According to the New York Daily News, the 21-year-old Mrs. Ortega “was alone in an evacuation center and her husband in the nation’s capital of Manila – another province away.”

The center was among the estimate 80% of the buildings struck when the typhoon hit Friday. “The building flooded and Ortiz was swept away and had to swim to a post and hold on before she could get to an airport for safety,” Joel Landau reported.

“That’s when the mother entered labor and gave birth to a baby girl in front of a crowd of military medics, who assisted in the delivery, and other survivors of the storm Monday,” according to Landau. “The crowd — which was more in the loop than the infant’s own father — cheered as the healthy baby was delivered.”

Indeed many news reports talk of how the baby’s birth has lifted morale in a nation that has suffered almost unimaginable damage. “The majority of buildings have been demolished in many areas and there is no electricity and a shortage of food and water rations for the people,” Landau reported.

Emily Ortega understood the odds. As she told the Daily Mail, “She is my miracle. I had thought I would die with her still inside me when high waves came and took us all away.”

The baby’s name—Beatrice–means “one who brings joy and blesses.”

Please join those who are following me on Twitter at twitter.com/daveha. Send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.