There was a very long pause the moment Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. No one knew what was happening because most forms of communications were severed due to the Category 5 typhoon that ravaged the provinces. It took about many hours before media feedback reported of official news.
Yes, Filipinos are used to massive rainfall year in year out. But this is totally unprecedented, combined with what we learned as a STORM SURGE. I’ve never heard of this word before but Tacloban, the hardest-hit province flanked by seas on both sides, had to fight for their lives as the 145mph winds blew 5-meter water walls inward from the seas along with the rains. The devastating effects were likened to a tsunami, where nothing but debris and floating bodies have been left in its path.
Remember the earthquake that toppled our centuries-old cathedrals just weeks ago? Well, the typhoon hit pretty much the same region and more places down south.
I believe the American Red Cross directly allows people outside of the Philippines to donate via PayPal.
We are outside looking in, only getting word from friends back home in the Philippines, those who are worried about relatives and friends in Tacloban and surrounding provinces. Manila was thankfully spared and I count myself blessed that my family is safe.
Friends back home are busy helping out in organizing donation drop-off points, while media friends have helped in the celebrity telethons to raise funds. According to him, a good number of calls he received were people desperately asking the whereabouts of their relatives because they had nowhere else to turn to. There is a powerful photo going around, showing scraps of papers, cardboard, paper plates where messages of survivors and their full names have been scrawled in their own dialects saying “We are alive!” to let families know they survived. These were handed out to a reporter who was at the scene and their details have been published since.
Delivering relief goods have been hampered by damaged towers and runways, boats cannot get through waters filled with floating snarled cables, torn wood, concrete; and cars and trucks battle through blocked roads as well.
Power lines and satellite signals are gone (for now), and fuel is running low in places that need them most, like hospitals. There have been shoutouts, one from a resort owner in beautiful Coron, Palawan, for people who privately own yachts, helicopters and private planes to help get their guests out of islands and bring in food, drinking water and fuel. Their supply of drinking water has been destroyed and contaminated by the flood.
Back in Tacloban the stench of death, according the reports, is overwhelming and finding a place to bring the bodies to has been challenging due to limited manpower at this point. The lives lost in that area has been estimated at 10,000.
Here are some of the things that are urgently needed. Not sure how people outside the PH can send these as of now but these are what I’ve been told is most helpful right now. For those who wish to donate in cash, may I suggest to course it through the American Red Cross.
1. Canned goods with easy-open lids (no need for can opener)
2. Crackers & biscuits
3. Leptospirosis and diarrhoea medicines
4. Sanitary pads
5. Infant solutions
6. Tetra milk packs
7. Eco bags (trying to minimise plastic bag usage)
8. Essential clothes in good condition (Kindness is appreciated, but bikinis, formal gowns, high heels and other non-essential can be donated at another time?)
9. Sheets and blankets always come in handy
10. First-aid kits
11. Pots and ladles
12. Generous supply of drinking water
For your prayers, assistance and for helping my country rise from the rubble, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.