‘We need to stay alive’
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines–Whenever residents of Tacloban city look up in the sky and hear the rumble of military planes landing on the runway, they see a gleam of hope to live.
As one of the strongest typhoons in the country began wreaking havoc in Central Visayas on Friday, Tacloban was brought to knees.
“The devastation here is absolute,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told the reporters here after he and his group landed at the battered Tacloban airport. The C-130 military plane that carried Roxas also brought relief supplies and equipment.
Since the telephone network in Tacloban has been crippled, Roxas appealed to media to report to the world about the vast devastation in Tacloban as soon as they establish their communication links.
Mikan Santos lives several streets from the coastal airport in Sitio (sub-village) Cataisan. While she lined up to avail herself of medical services, she said that the only thing that they need to do was “to stay alive.”
A stranded passenger, who declined to be identified, said he saw the horror left by “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in the streets of Tacloban.
“It was like World War Z,” he told INQUIRER.net. World War Z is an apocalyptic horror novel and film depicting the world as it was being taken over by animated corpses or zombies.
“Everywhere we look, we see dead bodies on the streets,” the government employee said, who came to Leyte for a seminar but was unluckily greeted by Yolanda’s wrath.
The Isanan couple wanted nothing but to keep their four children together amid the storm’s onslaught. Now Marvin and Loreta’s brood was reduced to only one.
Marvin Isanan, a security officer at the Tacloban Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said he brought his family with him to the airport on Friday for shelter from the typhoon.
But the next day, he found himself weeping as the bodies of his two daughters were recovered Saturday morning.
“I even kept a strand of my daughter’s hair. When she was found, we saw her hair tangled in the grills,” Isanan sobbed.
Isanan whipped out a wallet-sized family picture printed from a cell phone camera. “Naglalaro pa siya nung kinuhanan ko siya ng picture, nilalabas pa dila niya (she was even playing with me and sticking her tongue out when I took this photo),” he said.
The remains of the Isanan children were brought to a chapel near the airport.
As if the strong winds were not enough, Tacloban endured storm surges that inundated the entire airport located near the coastlines. The flood reached the ceiling of the airport offices, drowning people inside.
While the smell of death was everywhere, hope emerged with the cries of a new born child. Close to the super typhoon’s local name, Riza Jaro will name her first baby girl “Yoonadale.”
The 18-year-old young mother and her relatives chanced upon a group of military rescuers carrying a folding bed. Immediately it was used to carry her to a makeshift medical station at the airport where she went on labor.
Earlier, Jaro, a resident of San Jose in Tacloban, could not find a hospital to admit her for the imminent delivery of her first born.
Jaro’s mother said all hospitals, pharmacies and health centers were shuttered due to the massive destruction wrought by Yolanda to the town’s facilities and infrastructures.
Immediately responding to the expectant teen mother, a member of the military nurse corps placed Jaro’s bed over pile of papers covered in mud, calmed her down and administered dextrose on her right hand.
“Yoonadale” was not delivered at the Tacloban airport. The military personnel decided to airlift Jaro on one of the C-130 planes bound for Cebu.
Fearing the sunset
Roxas said once the sun starts to set, the people in Tacloban left homeless quickly seek temporary shelters.
Speaking to media early Saturday, Roxas said, “You have six hours of daylight left. Once the sun sets, you have to be in a secure place. There are no night lights working as of now.”
“Here you will not find barong-barong (makeshift) houses and typical dwellings, all of them were washed out,” he explained.
“You have to be very careful, you have to secure your own water, your own shelter and own food,” he said, pointing the dire scarcity of resources in Tacloban.
Detailing the magnitude of damage in the Leyte province, he explained: “Gutom ang tao, all the basic na ineexpect mo, pagbukas mo ng gripo na may tubig, pagsaksak mo ng cell phone mo may kuryente, ‘yung gripo may tubig, o kaya pagtawag mo sa pamilya mo at masasagot nila, wala lahat na ‘yon.”
As of Saturday, Roxas said restoration of power and communication lines might take some time.
He said the electrical engineers were having a hard time tracing the ends of cable wires providing electricity and cell site signals.
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