Our flight in was delayed because the infrastructure at the airport is completely destroyed. During the landing the pilot circled the airport several times waiting to be cleared. I was able to take my first few shots from the window prior to our landing.
The airport was completely destroyed , the entire infrastructure is gone. The control tower consists of dangling wires, huge panes of glass broken and shift lighting.
Aid has arrived hundreds of pallets are stack throughout the tarmac and helicopter dance around each other to secure an airlift load so they can drop them on the island near by. Today is the first day people on these islands will receive food and aid since the Typhoon, is has been 9 days. I spoke to Jeffery from the Navy – Intelligence and Mission Planning – he stated. “As of tonight, HSC-12 alone has been able to deliver well over 260,000 lbs. of food and water, as well as over 70 medical personnel with supplies and military personnel. We have been able to re supply remote areas an islands inaccessible by road or any other asset as well as survey villages, and airfields.”
Once we arrived at the airport we had to secure transport of our equipment and medical supplies to two area hospitals, Bethany Hospital and Dive World. Usually you can arrange transportation in advance but in this case, because the entire island was destroyed, we had to depend on the generosity of others. While on the plane I met a woman, Vicky, from the news organization GMA, she agreed to give our team transport to the hospital. I learned Vicky was a Diane Swayer type news reporter, full of style and grace in the mist of disaster, she was a bit of a celebrity. It turns out that GMA had actually shipped their car over form Cebu to cover the story.
Vicky decided to include Direct Relief International mission into her story and it played live later in the evening. Here is the link
The rest of the day consisted of meetings with top officials from each hospital. Bethany Hospital was closed due to the level of destruction. With that said, they did have a triage area setup to assistant with follow up care treating infection broken bones etc. Below is a picture of their pharmacy, the works are trying desperately to recover any useable medical supplies such as IV fluids, anything that was not damage.
I did not have time to write any more as we are headed to cover Cebu – so I have included Andrews (team leader) account below:
It’s pretty tough to comprehend the destruction that this storm caused–on par with the Moore, OK tornadoes but in a vastly larger area. Power lines are all dangling from the air, there is no running water, timber from houses look like matchsticks and they blanket the ground for as far as you can see. There’s no food or water to to be had on the island other than the bits that are being distributed so people are leaving by the plane and boatload to refugee camps in Cebu. Many people are literally starving. At one point we saw a food truck distribution line that must have gone on for a mile. When we walked down an alley to give some food out to a family thinking we could remain largely inconspicuous, we were instantly swarmed by another 50 or so people and unfortunately didn’t have enough to go around.
Our night consisted of a meal of MREs under flashlight in a seriously damaged Leyte Park Hotel which has become a hub of humanitarian activity. Tents and hammocks are set up in every flat part of the yard and in any trees that are still standing. I know people say the aid efforts have been slow to arrive and help the people (although logically when you think about it, it makes sense as orgs have to organize personnel, supplies, and equipment from all over the world and try to get it all into the same small space–in this case an island chain–at the same time when the airports and seaports are all damaged as are the staff who work in them) but it sure is here now. The hum of generators can be heard all night as people are frantically making their plans for the next day.
Jodie somehow managed to get us into a room, which of course didn’t have electricity or water, and inside it looked like everything had been left just as it was when the storm hit–like the people who were there 10 days before left and never came back.
In its previous state, the hotel would have surely been an amazing place. The rooms had amazing views and I took my place out on the deck and managed to sleep outside until it started raining on me in the early part of the morning.
I will try to make some sense of what we saw and heard in the hospital visits we made yesterday and how it is that these people have such amazingly positive outlooks on things. But I’m not quite there yet. Still baffles me.