Aid flows to typhoon survivors as Philippines struggles to rebuild

Residents shelter from the rain as they wait to get onto a military plane during an evacuation at Tacloban airport in the Typhoon Haiyan devastated city, November 16, 2013. Survivors began rebuilding homes destroyed by Haiyan, one of the world's most powerful typhoons, and emergency supplies flowed into ravaged Philippine islands, as the United Nations more than doubled its estimate of people made homeless to nearly two million. Credit: Reuters
Residents shelter from the rain as they wait to get onto a military plane during an evacuation at Tacloban airport in the Typhoon Haiyan devastated city.
Credit: Reuters

Long-delayed emergency supplies flowed into the typhoon-ravaged central Philippines on Saturday, reaching desperate families who had to fend for themselves for days, as the United Nations more than doubled its estimate of homeless to nearly two million.

The aid effort was still patchy, with relief officials reporting a surge in desperate, hungry survivors trying to leave the coastal city of Ormoc, 105 km (65 miles) west of Tacloban, the worst-affected major city.

More than a week after Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 3,633 with tree-snapping winds and tsunami-like waves, hundreds of international aid workers set up makeshift hospitals and trucked in supplies. Helicopters from a U.S. aircraft carrier ferried medicine and water to remote, battered areas.

Residents of Tanauan, a fishing town about 15 km (9 miles) southeast of Tacloban, said they only started receiving substantial aid on Friday after being forced to survive on biscuits and dispose of dead bodies on their own for days.

More than 60 people were buried behind the municipal office in the district of 50,000 people. Down the road, dozens of corpses were interred under a roundabout.

“I think (the response) was quite slow. This town was isolated. Media didn’t come here. We were out of circulation for three days,” said Penny Tecson, the wife of the district’s mayor. She was running the recovery operation while her husband, Pel Tecson, was in Tacloban to coordinate the district’s first large-scale delivery of aid from the national government.

In one ward of Tanauan, neighborhood chief Cecilio Yepes Jr. estimated his community lost nearly 10 percent of its 1,176 residents. Here, the storm surge has transformed an entire swampy plain into a rubbish pile of trees and debris. Locals have recovered and buried 30 bodies. Another 98 remain somewhere in the vast wasteland that stretches on either side of the road.

At least 800 people died in the district of Palo, which lies between Tanauan and Tacloban, national authorities said.

In Tacloban, work crews and heavy equipment cleared debris from roadsides, but side streets remained piled with the sodden, tangled remains of homes which city officials fear could reveal hundreds more bodies when they are eventually cleared.

There are 1,179 people missing, according to the national count. The official death toll only rose by 12 on Saturday, giving hope that initial local estimates of 10,000 dead were overblown.

In front of Tacloban’s San Fernando Elementary School, government workers distributed sacks of aid to a restless crowd of hundreds who had spent the last week camped in shattered wooden classrooms or in a main school building with floors covered in wet black sand. Nearby, about a dozen body bags were neatly lined up by the roadside.

Rica Mobilla, an 18-year-old mother of one, said local authorities showed up two days after the disaster, handing out four kilograms of rice and a few packs of noodles for her family of thirteen. The family stretched this out with onions and garlic bought from the market.

“I’m upset. I’m not blaming anyone. If there’s aid there to give out we’ll receive it,” she said.

President Benigno Aquino, caught off guard by the scale of the disaster, is scheduled to visit typhoon-affected areas on Sunday. He has been criticized for the slow pace of aid distribution and unclear estimates of casualties, especially in Tacloban, capital of hardest-hit Leyte province.

In Tacloban the death toll is written on a whiteboard at City Hall and bodies have been buried in mass graves since Thursday. Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez said many people may have been swept out to sea after the tsunami-like wall of seawater slammed into coastal areas.

SURVIVORS START TO REBUILD, HOMELESS RISE

The Philippines Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman acknowledged in a radio interview that the national relief response had been too slow to reach many areas.

“We will double our efforts to distribute relief goods because we’ve been hearing complaints that a lot of people have yet to receive relief goods,” she said.

Arnaldo Arcadio, an emergency responder with the Catholic Relief Services group, said desperation over conditions in remote rural areas had led people to surge into Ormoc in hope of fleeing the city by ferry.

“People are fleeing in mass numbers and coming to Ormoc, where they stand in line all day to get on a ferry only to be turned away,” he said.

“Ormoc is teeming with people who haven’t eaten in days. They’re hungry, thirsty and tired. They want to get out.”

Across Tacloban, survivors have begun to rebuild. The sounds of hammers ring out. Men gather in groups to fix motorbikes or drag debris off splintered homes and wrecked streets. Most have given up searching for lost loved ones.

The number of people made homeless by the storm rose to 1.9 million, up from 900,000, the United Nations’ humanitarian agency said. In Tacloban, at least 56,000 people face unsanitary conditions, according to the United Nations’ migration agency.

U.S. HELICOPTERS AID RELIEF EFFORT

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday pledged 30 million pounds ($48 million) for international aid agencies working in the Philippines.

Japan plans to send 1,180 troops to the Philippines, its largest oversea deployment for disaster relief. Japanese destroyer Ise and transport vessel Osumi will leave for the Philippines in a few days carrying helicopters to deliver aid.

But the patchy initial aid response highlighted the need for international agencies and local governments to prepare for more frequent, more devastating natural disasters, said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

“This is a mindset change that must happen if we want to be able to stand up to this trend,” she told Reuters in Tacloban.

U.S. military assistance has been pouring into the Philippines since Thursday when the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and accompanying ships arrived off eastern Samar province, carrying 5,000 crew and more than 80 aircraft.

The Philippines is one of Washington’s closest allies in Asia and a crucial partner in President Barack Obama’s strategy of rebalancing U.S. military forces towards the region to counter the rising clout of China.

The Pentagon said on Friday that U.S. Navy amphibious ships will leave Okinawa in Japan “in the coming hours” carrying an additional 1,000 marines and sailors who will provide engineering equipment, relief supplies, and medical support.

The U.S. military estimates that it delivered some 623,000 pounds (283,000 kg) of U.S. relief supplies to the Philippines so far. The American military also estimated that it had moved nearly 1,200 relief workers into Tacloban and airlifted nearly 2,900 displaced people from affected areas so far.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…