Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A crippled nation battles a tide of desperation

Coleen Jose in E&E News: More than a week after what may be the most powerful recorded storm ever to hit land, the Philippines is a nation on the move, with an enormous dislocation of people fleeing crushed homes; severely wounded cities; a lack of food, electricity, phones and clean water; and spreading disease. Meanwhile, other vehicles fight the huge tide of people, trying to bring help to the worst-hit places.

"It was the most surreal homecoming," recalled Daryl Daño as she bumped along a wreckage-strewn road on the island of Samar in a vehicle packed with survivors of the still unraveling devastation in the central Philippines.

Daño, a volunteer for the educational nonprofit group PeaceTech Inc., was one of the few civilians allowed to board the first batches of U.S. KC-130 military aircraft that arrived in the capital, Manila. She had boarded a flight bound for the hard-hit area of Tacloban to look for her elderly parents on the third day after the typhoon made landfall.

After Supertyphoon Haiyan reduced remote villages and densely populated towns to ruins, more and more people are evacuating to Cebu and Manila seeking medical care and shelter. The funnel for bringing aid relief has grown wider, an international effort that was slow to gain momentum in a region composed of thousands of islands. But nongovernmental groups working directly with isolated communities before the typhoon struck became the lifeline for thousands of people very rarely seen in the international news media.

The United Nations now estimates deaths at 4,460, with the number expected to rise because the stream of uprooted humanity could involve a good portion of the 11 million people that were affected by the disaster, creating an amount of refugee chaos usually only seen in wartime...

PAGASA, the Philippines weather and environmental agency, is the source for this image Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda making landfall south of Tacloban City on the Island of Leyte

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