Typhoon Haiyan: Aid worker speaks

Several British vessels and aid workers are heading to the Philippines as the UN has appealed for more aid in the midst of large-scale devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. With at least 10,000 people feared to have been killed and thousands of survivors requiring aid Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity. According to a statement from President Aquino’s office, two of the worst affected provinces, Leyte and Samar, has seen the worst destruction. Aid workers are reaching the affected areas but incessant rain and possibility of another typhoon is proving to be a big challenge. We speak to aid worker, Sandra Bulling, from CARE International, who gives us a brief idea about the areas affected by the Typhoon Haiyan.


[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkVnJ2lhYKU[/youtube]

AGI: How did you reach Philippines and what was your first thought?

Bulling: We arrived by boat at the port in Ormoc City. As soon as we stepped onto the port, we were in the middle of a disaster zone. Everything was destroyed. Tin roofing sheets were hanging off trees like wet blankets.

 AGI: What was the situation like there?

 Bulling: All the houses along the coast are completely flattened. Everything was destroyed. Further inland, about 80 percent of the houses were roofless. About five percent of the houses were completely collapsed – these were mainly wooden houses. It seems like everyone we saw had a hammer or tools in their hands, trying to repair their houses and their roofs. People were picking up poles and pieces of wood from the street. There were long queues at hardware stores, pharmacies. We waited in line for two hours to get fuel. So far the roads are okay, but it’s taking a long time to get anywhere.

Aid Worker Sandra Bulling
Aid Worker Sandra Bulling

AGI: People of Philippines are known to be resilient. How are they coping up with this devastation?

Bulling: I talked to a shop owner whose shop was destroyed; he lost everything. He’s wondering how he’s going to feed his five children. I also met a little girl, who was trying to dry out her books. Her house was totally destroyed, but there she was, worried about her school books, because she wants to go to school. And it’s the only thing she has left.

AGI: As an aid worker, what challenges are you facing?

Bulling: We arrived in Jaro, a small town on the way to Tacloban. It was dark when we arrived, so we couldn’t go any further. We stayed in the police station that night but we were not sure where we’ll sleep, maybe in the car, or outside. There was an electricity pole that was leaning dangerously over the police station, so everyone was trying to steer clear of that. Our plan was to go to Dulag, just south of Tacloban. Our driver just came from there, and says it’s very bad, and they need help.

AGI:  Devastation like this can create a huge sense of desperation. What’s the situation in Philippines?

Bulling: People are becoming quite desperate. Some officials just came and told us that there has been looting in the area, people trying to get rice for their families. People haven’t had food for three days, and they’re trying to feed their families. That’s why it’s so important to get food and emergency supplies in to these areas as soon as possible. In Ormoc, there was food; we could buy chicken and rice. But there were big queues at the food stalls and shops. We’re in an urban area now, and I don’t even want to think what it’s like the rural areas. We’ll start moving again at first light. I don’t think anyone is going to get any sleep tonight.



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