The Recovery process is happening but it is slow and it is massive.
At times it feels like we are in a scene from a WWII movie. Neighbourhoods are filled with rubble and kids are picking at the garbage.
People still have no electricity in their homes. Most of the power lines are still down and lying in the street. Today our bus had to back up two blocks because the power lines crossed the path. The main roads are all clear but you will see lots of garbage and debris piled up along the side. Thankfully, all the dead bodies have been removed from the streets and dumped into mass grave sites north of Tacloban, the residents are happy the smell is gone. 90% of businesses are still not operational, the few that are, have managed to open by running diesel generators while the people spend money from relatives overseas. The locals wish that progress could be quicker but the international aid really is in the hands of the President of the Philippines. The Government doesn't get along with the Tacloban Mayor who comes from a rival family, so again it is the poor who suffer.
Typhoon Haiyan affected 12 million people in the Samar, Leyte region and the locals firmly believe there are as many as 20,000 dead and it could be 30,000. The locals say the government is reluctant to report the actual numbers because they do not want to lose monetary control of international funding.
My family are OK and getting by, mainly because they have each other. I have heard all their stories of survival and the terror they experienced from Yolanda. They say they will never forget the shrieking sound of the wind. The deafening noise was like a freight train that never passes and it awakens them in their sleep. Some of my cousins have no homes and move around to live with other relatives. This is the basis of the Filipino resilience.
There are only a few international aid agencies left. What is disturbing to see are large tents on the outskirts of town stacked high with bags of rice, and city hall offices with tons of rice piled high. I'm not aware of the systems in place for the distribution of these rice bags, but it seems so wrong to delay when there are so many people without jobs and struggling to find food for their families.
We are moving our clinic tomorrow to the city of Tanauan, 45 minutes south of Tacloban. They say it is even more devastated than Tacloban because it was the first landfall for Typhoon Yolanda.
On Monday we will be in the province of Samar in the town of Basay-a small fishing village. where the mayor says the storm surge hit 18 feet. The town hall was wiped out as well as many homes.