- Posted November 12, 2013 by
Tacloban City, Philippines
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Typhoon Haiyan: Your stories
Super Typhoon Haiyan Experience
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
A couple of my friends and I happened to be in Tacloban in the midst of the strongest typhoon to be ever recorded in history. A seemingly fun beach getaway turned into the worst vacation the eleven of us have ever experienced.
Growing up in the Philippines, I was pretty much used to storms hitting the country but this one was unlike any other. I woke up at around 5am, peeked through the window and saw what seemed to be like a normal typhoon with strong wind and heavy rain. Until it got worse and worse. I could hear the wind banging the windows as if it were going to explode. The wind was so strong and sounded like a mad woman was crying so loud and even hellhounds howling. The typhoon was so severe that we could feel our ears popping because of the air pressure and that pressure threatened to blow our windows to smitherens luckily we managed to let it out. The only place where we felt safe was in the hallway so we placed chairs and there we sat and prayed it would just be over. It was the scariest thing that ever happened in my life. People started banging our door. We let them in and saw children, women and men crying and telling their houses were destroyed by the storm surge. We let a number of people in and out our room ranging from old men to toddlers who were seeking refuge from the destruction outside. I looked out the window and saw how quick the level of water was increasing. People who entered our room got so scared that some of them even went to the third floor fearing that the water would reach our room as well. We feared for our lives and thought about what could be the smartest thing to do. We already had a small bag ready with necessities if in case we'd have to go somewhere higher than where we were. We decided to stay in our room convinced that it would be the safest area in the 3-floor hotel building. At one point the only thing that could be seen outside was this sort of white cover, as if you were behind a swirling waterfall. Just strong winds, the rain and debris that slammed against our windows and doors, were the only things vissible. After a few hours the weather became more calm, the sky became clearer as if nothing bad happened. The water was gone and you could see mud, debris, fallen trees and destroyed houses everywhere. We checked out the first floor of the hotel and saw how greatly it was damaged as the first floor hotel guests said the water level rose so quick they almost drowned. No staff in the hotel warned them about anything. The saddest thing was most of the guests in the first floor were elderly. The third floor of the hotel was in total devastation as well. The roof was gone, windows and furniture were broken. It was totally devastating. Electricity and connections were cut so we had no idea how badly the city was destroyed. It was a complete blackout.
My other friends Nico and Ken decided to check out the places near our hotel. They also searched for food and water we could drink for the next days. Everything was wiped out and we were thinking of what to do next fearing there would be a second wave of the super typhoon. As we tried to keep our spirits up, we could here more crying from the outside, as a number of people carted of the dead and the injured. Night fall came and it was dark and quiet. I couldn't sleep thinking about what happened on what seemed to be the worst day of our lives. Staying in the hotel room was scary because of the possibility that people might ransack the place. That same night when the typhoon came, we saw a huge fire that looked like to be located in downtown. The whole scene was like something fresh out from a movie. It was like the end of the world. Power lines and connection lines were cut off so we had no idea on what happened to the other places that was affected by the storm. At around 10 oclock Nico's Dad managed to find us and we were told that their house though also flooded was in better condition than the hotel so we planned to make our 2 hour walk to safety early the next day.
As we made our way through the ruble and the ruins we could finally get a good grasp of how devastating it was in the downtown area and see just how crazy things will most likely escalate given the disorder. Cars overturned people collecting the scraps of wood to make makeshift shelters it was quite a walk. For two days, we couldn't reach our family members until we decided to check on our friend Casey's grandmother's house. With a bit of luck, a friend saw a lady holding a phone and looked like texting somebody. On that spot he asked if there was already a phone connection. Our whole group turned on our phones hoping there would be available signal. Thankfully for some reason, that spot had signal and we were able to contact our family members in Manila that's when almost everyone just brokedown and cried their hearts out. Everyone was so worried because it was a total news black out. Tacloban City was very chaotic. Looting was everywhere, not just food, water and medicine. I could see men trying to get in an appliance store, carrying out refrigerators, washing machine, basically anything they could get. I thought to myself, what would they do with that? Their homes were wiped out, there is no electricity, where would they put the stolen appliances?
The aftermath of the storm has sinked in and this was the first and only time where I've seen and smelled so many dead bodies lying on the side streets. wave upon wave of people carting or carrying their dead love ones, it truly a gutwrenching sight. On Nov. 10, Sunday night, we headed to the airport hoping the streets would be clear and we would be able to reach the airport. Picture a scene from the Walking Dead, the whole downtown was like a ghost town, the wind was filled with the smell of dead people, and seeing how everything was destroyed was just truly heartbreaking. We camped outside the ruined Tacloban Airport with high hopes that we could ride the C130 plane that would take us to Cebu or Manila. We waited and lined up for 14 hours with no food and water despite the relief goods being given on the other side of the airport. People were getting so desperate that we thought there would be a stampede. After not being able to ride several planes leaving because of so many people in the airport. Sensing a riot about to break loose we decided to just go for it as the pushing and the shoving started. Given that we were eleven it was pretty hard to manage to make it through with the dirst batch making it and the second being restrained by military personel after we all tried to break free with the help of a very nice soldier named Copiado and and a commanding officer named Marindillia Jr. who has seen us there waiting patiently for hours, all my friends and I finally got the chance to ride the military airplane.
People in the Visayas area, and all the other region in the Philippines that were hit by the storm badly needs food, water, clothing and shelter to survive. I hope the government would be able to resolve the looting issue. I have witnessed it happen in Tacloban City. Surivors are walking everywhere carrying sacks of goods they were able to get. I have stayed in the destructed city for a couple of days after the typhoon hit and I couldn't feel the relief goods being passed around.
The Philippines and my countrymen really need all the help that anyone in the world could give. A lot of people are starving. Desperately in need of food and water thus making them desperate and making the situation all the more chaotic as they've begun turning on each other for the remaining resources. And that's only one of the many areas affected by the storm. We hope some people would read this and spread the word the philippines needs help and somehow know that you've help them get it by simply sharing this.