Typhoon Yolanda: Beyond Imagination
Where are you?”
“We need food, water and light!”
“Please help us!”
“Here we are begging for your help!”
“We don’t know how to start all over again!”
These were some of the lamentations addressed to the government of mostly women and children who survived the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda, the world's strongest typhoon in this decade that hit the country last November 8.
Typhoon Yolanda is the fourth strongest recorded storm in history and the strongest to make a landfall according to Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, a US commercial weather service. Yolanda packed winds of 195 mph or 315kph at the maximum, 3.5 times stronger than Hurricane Katrina, very deadly indeed.
Heart-breaking images of the devastation inflicted by Typhoon Yolanda were beyond imagination of everyone. The air roared, shook, twisted and blew violently wiping out every solid matter along its way in a matter of an hour.
"It’s beyond comprehension", said my husband.
Trees were uprooted, broken and torn down. Lush green mountains turned brown. Trees that survived were skinned and without leaves like skeleton. , Houses, school buildings, markets, gym, hospitals, churches collapsed. Sea water rose up washing away lives and livelihood of everyone in places hit by the Typhoon Yolanda. Nothing was left standing in its full structures but debris that scattered everywhere in every direction. It’s a complete disarray and chaos!
Sounds of pains and cry for help desperately echoed in every corner after the storm. People were shocked in disbelief. Mothers are helpless and angry where to get food for their hungry children while the fathers were looking for food.
Waiting for relief assistance from government was exasperating not knowing when to arrive. Five days after , seventy-six were found dead and 22 were buried in mass graves . The survivors were left with no food, no water and no power. Government relief assistance was nowhere to be found at the onset of the disaster .
Worst, there was an oil spill in Brgy. Botongon, Estancia from the power barge crushed in pier during storm and wave surges. According to Coast Guard Western Visayas District Commodore Athelo Ybañez, 1.4 million liters of fuel carried by the power barge and 1.2 thousand liters spilled.
This is our town Estancia, one of the many towns and cities of Iloilo in the Visayas Island that was violently hit. Typhoon Yolanda heavily wreaked its havoc in this once a small paradise but now completely turned into hell. My husband’s family house was damaged. Our source of livelihood was gone!
Two days after the storm, my husband seeks out help for relief supplies in Iloilo City. He stayed in Estancia while we stayed in Iloilo City. It took 5 hours’ drive from Estancia to Iloilo City. The road was was still unpassable but he and his friend took the risk of going out from Estancia to seek relief assistance. I could see in his face the devastation and the desperation . At that moment of despair, I still couldn’t fathom the level of his pain until such time I've seen the unimaginable images of devastation viewed on television networks.
I felt so devastated sharing the feeling of my husband and of those who suffers the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda. I cried for how many nights and got severe headache watching every devastating images and hearing the pain and agony of woman and children.
" There’s nothing to expect from the government. They were so slow in quick relief delivery responses. ", lamented my husband.
He hid his fears and tears speaking to me.
" I can’t able to provide our family needs for a period of time. Nothing was left and we have to start at ground zero again".
The economic activities of the people of Estancia completely collapsed. Fishing is their main livelihood but all their fishing pump boats scattered and broke into pieces. Hunger and darkness spread all over the place. The hope and time for bringing back life again is uncertain.
Yet, my husband's courage remained strong bringing immediate relief to our family and to the people in Estancia . We borrowed an old pick up of our disaster network and brought with him generators and gasoline to give a flicker of light and life back to Estancia. As a community leader , he negotiated with the communication company to install immediately the communication system for the people of Estancia and to its neighboring towns.
While in Estancia he called me for updates every day from different towns where signals were present. He brought messages of his neighbours through his cell phone and sent them to their relatives outside Estancia. He organized and mobilized local volunteers for massive relief distribution for the coming days when relief goods arrive.
Relief operations of government slowly wheeled on but people hardly feel it. Local people started their own ways of surviving immediately after the wreakage like what my husband did. National government was under fire by international media due to their sluggishness of relief delivery.
People from typhoon hit-areas started to get angry out of desperation from the government support.