Via the Poverty Matter blog in The Guardian, Leoniza Morales writes: Philippines disaster diary: darkness and destruction on the road to Tacloban. Excerpt:
I'm finally home. I was in Ormoc city and Tacloban city for 10 days last month as one of World Vision's first responders team. I've been a first responder in many disasters over my nine years as part of this organisation, but even as a Filipina, typhoon Haiyan is the worst I've known.
I was there for our initial assessment of the need and our response, and now I'm back in Manila where I'm usually based – though I grew up in the province of Camarines Sur, in the Bicol region of Luzon Island – waiting to hear when I'll be deployed back to Tacloban.
The trip from Cebu to Ormoc took a lot longer than usual. The pier was packed with people waiting for their loved ones, who were bringing food. Then the two-hour trip getting from Ormoc to Tacloban turned into two days: six hours in a jeepney (our colourful buses), being stranded overnight, and then four hours in a habal-habal, a motorcycle taxi.
By 6am on my first day in Tacloban, more than 100 people were queueing in front of a bakery: some of them had been there since 4am. The owner only allowed each person 50 Philippine pesos (60p) worth of bread, so everyone got some.
At the two petrol stations, hundreds of people – children and adults – were also queueing. When we left the city, we lost communication with the office.
My time in Tacloban brought an endless view of destruction – flattened houses, schools, government offices, hospitals, markets. Sugarcane, banana, coconut, bamboo and other trees were uprooted. I kept wondering: where are all the children? How can they survive? How and when can they go back to school? When did they have their last meal? Where are they sleeping now?
For six hours, we travelled in a jeepney, and stopped at Alangalang. A rice warehouse had been looted. All that people wanted was to feed their hungry families. Two colleagues and I wanted to get back to Tacloban, but we couldn't find a habal-habal, so we agreed to head instead to a nearby town, Carigara, where a colleague's family live. We found a jeepney driver who needed to get back to Ormoc city; his family were sleeping in the jeepney because their house had been damaged in the typhoon. Even so, the driver and his family welcomed us and shared their food with us. That was the last day we ate rice and had three meals a day.
Tacloban was in chaos. The road to city hall was littered with rubble, with the bodies of dead children and animals on both sides of the street; only some were covered up. Tacloban's convention centre had became the evacuation centre two days before the typhoon. In the dusk light, I talked to a mother who was cooking instant noodles given to her by men who had looted a grocery store. Another was having dried fish for dinner, given by people who had looted the market. They told me the "looters" shared whatever they found, so everybody had something to eat. Men told me that they hadn't eaten for several days. What little food they had, they gave to their children.
When they asked me when food aid was arriving, I had to explain that it was extremely difficult to bring in aid because some roads were – and still are – not passable.
Apart from the light from cooking fires and the burning of old tyres for heat, Tacloban was in total darkness when night fell. Soldiers and police officers were patrolling strategic roads and areas, and a curfew from 8pm and 5am had been imposed. Every village had organised groups of men to guard the entrance and exit points in their area.
Mildred, our programme officer, took us to her home. We had porridge for dinner, and bread and coffee for breakfast. When we reached the city hall at 3pm the next day, we ate the rest of the bread and canned food we had brought with us. I thought of all the children who would sleep hungry on the cold floors of the evacuation centres and makeshift houses that night, and prayed that it wouldn't rain.